The glorious weather convinced many Irish consumers to ‘staycation’ and take a break here at home rather than abroad.
Business is reported to be substantially up on last year in those premises that have outdoor dining areas or those situated in tourist or coastal regions.
“The weather has had a significant effect on trading,” agreed Vintners Federation of Ireland Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “Coastal areas have done very well as have locations with sizeable beer gardens. Feedback from members would suggest that it has been a reasonable trading period with some changes to trading patterns. In some instances the good weather encouraged people to come out albeit a bit later than normal (maybe as a result of having more BBQs at home).”
However the lunchtime food trade was adversely effected with people opting to stay outdoors or concentrate on salads etc, he added.
“Tourism continued to be strong and was a major positive contributor.
“All in all a positive period,” he concluded.
From a supplier’s point-of-view, it has been suggested that when we get a good Summer, we get incremental consumption opportunities that we don’t normally get.
“In talking to publicans over the Summer period one assumes that the rising tide of the Summer lifts all boats but that’s not necessarily so if you don’t have a beer garden,” Kevin O’Mahony, Marketing Manager at Barry & Fitzwilliam, told Drinks Industry Ireland, “I have spoken to some publicans that are down on their knees praying for rain – those without the al fresco resources, who struggled over the Summer.
“A pub needs to be at the coast or have a big beer garden to really get the benefit of that good weather.
“But overall most people in trade would be pretty happy with where we are.”
The off-trade, too, has seen the benefit.
“It’s certainly true for wine and beer as everyone seems to want to barbecue and when we go to barbecue we tend to bring more than one bottle of wine or perhaps a slab of beer instead of a six-pack,” agreed Kevin, “So beer and wine would have done very well with rosé trending very well off a very low base.
But brown spirits had a tough Summer, he added,
Brown spirits sales poor
Cognac, for example, had a very tough Summer,” said Kevin O’Mahony, “Whiskey didn’t have it that easy either but this has been compensated for in the Spirits sector by the massive boom in gin. Pink gin is doing very well within the gin category.
“The ‘Gordon’s Pink effect’ is recruiting consumers out of RTDs and into pink gin.”
Pink gin targets the ‘prosecco girls’ market who seem to be responding favourably to this, he said.
However, taking the 12 months before the July heatwave, he views the on-trade’s progress differently, pointing out that, “If the on-trade is growing, the Nielsen data on Spirits do not reflect this..
“Nielsen is showing that in the on-trade MAT to the end of June, volumes were down 0.5% while off-trade volumes were up 8.5% in spirits.”
However things have not been so sanguine in the restaurant trade.
Some restaurants down 40%
Some restaurants reported business 40% down in food sales on July 2016 commented Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, “It depends on where the business is located during the warm weather. If they didn’t have an outdoor seating area or were not situated near the sea, business would have been down,” he told Drinks Industry Ireland, “Next year we’d be advising businesses of the need to factor weather events into their 2019 budget.
We’ve had three major ones over the last 12 months with Storm Ophelia, the ‘Beast From The East’ and drought conditions and high temperatures this Summer. These affected some if not all businesses.
“Businesses need to budget for it and ask ‘What can I do to implement Best Practice in my business?’.
“There’s nothing you can do about snowstorms but if people can get to your business you need to have a beer garden or change your menu or change how you operate your business to suit your customers’ requirements.”
In the UK, pubs witnessed a 2.7% rise in sales as a result of the July heatwave compared to July 2017 but restaurants suffered as sales dipped 4.8% according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker there. June witnessed a similar sales pattern there with pub sales up 2.8% but restaurants down 1.8%.
It wasn’t all good news for UK pubs however.
“Food-led pubs also suffered in the sun with negative like-for-likes, although not as dramatically as the restaurant operators,” commented Peter Martin, Vice President of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, “It seems people just wanted to go out for a drink.”