“June, July and August bar sales were very strong last year but this Summer hasn’t quite hit those levels” LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe told Drinks Industry Ireland, “but it was still a good, solid Summer.
“Tourism numbers were excellent and yes, while the British may be reigning in their spending they’re still coming in good numbers and despite the €uro/Sterling exchange rate weakening again to 91-92 pence to the €uro, overall tourism numbers are excellent while the numbers of tourists into Dublin have been excellent too.”
However he acknowledged “an emerging unease and uncertainty about consumer confidence” as people got more “edgy” about Brexit.
“Property prices are starting to fall and are now close to last year’s levels,” he added, “Nationally, the on-trade is likely to be significantly weaker but Dublin trade levels are close to last year, so it was a good Summer – not a great Summer… That unease consumers are experiencing will probably intensify until Brexit is sorted.”
Feedback from the trade outside Dublin tends to re-inforce Donall O’Keeffe’s view and would suggest that the Summer season was well back on 2018.
“2018 was exceptional from a weather perspective and that fed into a strong feelgood factor resulting in better spend,” commented VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “There’s also some evidence that the poorer weather this year resulted in more people holidaying abroad.
“While the official figures show that tourism numbers are up, the figures for Quarter 1 are replicated in Quarter 2 and show that the spend is down. This is more so with British tourists and this affects the bar trade most as the British tourist is more pub-centred than European or North American tourists.
“The feeling is that consumer confidence at home is lower, primarily due to all the negative hype around Brexit. Also a combination of the move in VAT and new drink-driving regulations are affecting rural areas.
“All-in-all a challenging few months,” he concluded.
UK pub market up
The UK reports spend in pubs up 10.9% year-on-year to August in the face of more generally subdued consumer spend, up just 1.3% compared to the previous August (which was up 4.5% on the August before that) according to recently-published Barclaycard data.
Interestingly, Barclaycard also reveals that one in five consumers in the UK has begun stockpiling everyday items in case of future shortages while one in four 18 to 34 year-olds had begun this practice.