UK off-trade sales finally decline as bar trade rebounds

29 June, 2021

Sales of beers, wines and spirits have finally started to decline in the UK off-trade after bars were permitted to open their doors once again.

BWS sales soared at supermarkets across the country last year as a result of the enforced closure of the on-trade.

Sales were up by more than 30% most weeks as Brits stocked up on drinks to enjoy at home. The trend continued into 2021, with off-trade BWS sales up 25% year-on-year in January and 26% in February, according to Nielsen.

The on-trade started to recover when beer gardens were permitted to reopen in April, but the recent reopening of indoor pubs, bars and restaurants has finally put an end to the off-trade growth.

Nielsen noted that the BWS category was down by 4.4% in supermarkets for the four weeks to June 19. It said alcohol spend “shifted away” from retailers as indoor drinking and eating returned. 

Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight, said the off-trade should still enjoy a strong summer as the on-trade rebounds. “Whilst more food spend will shift back to hospitality, the increase in seasonal travel and families and friends finally able to join together without restrictions, will give an added boost to food and drink categories at supermarkets,” he said.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.