‘Dry January’ not necessarily so

Despite the fact that one in five people partake in ‘Dry January’ in the UK, new consumer research there from licensed trade analysts CGA Strategy suggests that while people start out with good intentions, alcohol sales can return to normal levels well before the end of the month as people’s pay cheques arrive and they become more likely to break their Dry January vows.

Pubs and bars are using food and soft drinks offers to successfully tempt such consumers back with CGA’s Trading Index data indicating a significant upswing in on-trade sales in the last week of January in the UK.

In fact bars and food-led pubs there increased their average weekly food sales in January 2017 by 2.6% and 2.0% respectively on January 2016, suggesting that some people switched away from drink-led pubs in Dry January to ones that emphasise their food offer. Both special promotions and an emphasis on healthier options have helped maintain trade during a month that sees many people resolve to eat better as well as cut out alcohol.

Well over a quarter (28%) of young adults in the UK said they planned to go dry in January against a countrywide average of one in five (20%). It had much less appeal for those aged over 55 (14%) and females (23%) were more likely to take part than males (18%).

However drink sales have held up well, reports CGA, with drink-led pubs increasing their average weekly drink sales by 2.6% on January 2016 too. There’s also some evidence that more people are enjoying soft drinks in pubs and bars as a result of giving up alcohol for the month. The share of all drinks sales taken by soft drinks was slightly higher in January than averages during the rest of the year – “… though uplifts might be even higher if pubs and bars could make their non-alcoholic drinks offer more appealing,” suggests CGA Strategy.

Our research shows that Dry January has become a full-blown occasion,” commented CGA’s Chief Executive Phil Tate, “That presents pubs and bars with a challenge if they’re to retain footfall—but it’s one they’re rising to. Good food and soft drinks give people reasons to keep coming in through the doors and operators that can maximise those opportunities are more likely to shrug off any negative impacts of Dry January.”



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