“Generally speaking, it was a good Christmas for VFI members,” commented VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “The long weekend run-up helped publicans, especially those outside major urban areas as people travelled home early.
“We’ve also heard back from all parts of the country that there were high levels of Garda checkpoints” he continued, “in particular the ‘morning after’. This had some impact on all pubs, particularly late-night venues where it was thought people were worried about being stopped the next day.
“And in some areas of the country there was a sense pubs were busy but individual spend seemed somewhat curtailed.”
In Dublin publicans enjoyed “a very good Christmas” according to feedback coming back to LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe.
“Probably, in turnover terms, it was a small fraction up on 2017 which was itself a strong Christmas” he told Drinks Industry Ireland, “so this Christmas was another strong trade performance and I’m getting feedback from some individual operators who’d 10-15% growth, with a nice mix between city centre and suburbs.”
He said that while the city had had good business from the Sunday before Christmas, the suburban pubs in Dublin had enjoyed good business since the Saturday night before Christmas which had continued into the weekend after Christmas, “… although they’ve gone into hibernation since then,” he added.
Nevertheless, the first Monday after the New Year saw a pick-up in trade with the rugby bringing a few in, he said.
“Brexit aside, we can be fairly optimistic about 2019,” he believed, reckoning that buoyancy would return to Dublin’s pubs on the weekend of the 1st February “when everyone gets paid, there’s Six Nations rugby on and people come out of hibernation”.
The ‘morning after’ Garda checkpoints are also likely to have had some effect on the Dublin trade he believed.
“The visibility of the Road Safety Authority ads on TV and radio warnings against ‘morning after’ driving certainly had a big impact on the night before with people modifying their consumption behaviour or tailing-off the evening early,” he said, “This is likely to have the effect of concentrating the pub trade into Friday and Saturday nights when it’s less necessary to drive the following morning.”