Weekly Newsletter from PROOF Insight

This week: Train Strikes – Christmas 2023; Restaurant Promotions; Alcohol-Free Definition

Research news

Rail strikes threaten Christmas trade

Train driver’s union ASLEF recently revealed that it has not ruled out strike action over the upcoming Christmas period. In response, 37 major UK hospitality companies, including Big Table Group, D&D London and Mitchells & Butlers, all signed an open letter addressed to the transport secretary and rail unions urging them to redouble efforts to find a solution. Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, estimates that the strike action over the past 16 months has already cost on-trade operators £3.5bn in sales, with other sources suggesting these latest strikes in October will add a further cost of £400m. Strike action during the critical festive trading period, which generates almost 10% of annual drinks value, would harm many businesses and workers.

Last year, PROOF Insight found that strikes during the festive period impacted consumer behaviour, with 20% of on-trade consumers stating they altered their plans due to public transport strikes. Coupled with cold weather and the cost-of-living crisis, the strikes contributed to a 13.1% fall in volume of drink sales (December 2022 vs. December 2019). Moreover, drink sales data suggested that consumers avoided the high street – GB community pubs recovered 97% of December 2019 volumes while GB high street pubs only recovered 87% of volumes. This year, PROOF Insight’s Christmas 2023 report found that 58% of consumers plan to go out every week this December, but this could be dampened by strike disruptions.

To find out ways to maximise opportunities during the upcoming festive period, get in contact to receive PROOF Insight’s On-trade Christmas 2023 report.

Sources: Morning Advertiser, BBC, PROOF Insight Christmas 2022 Report, PROOF Insight Christmas 2023 Report

Click here for PROOF’s Christmas Report

Industry news

Restaurant promotions on the rise to enhance value propositions

Restaurant promotions have increased by 9% since the beginning of 2023 as operators enhance their value proposition. Promotions are trending towards those that offer extra product, such as free items for a certain amount spent or “buy one get one free” – now accounting for 13% of all promo. Price offers still account for 70%, although this has fallen from 80% at the beginning of the year. Special price offers on specific items account for 47%, whilst discounts across whole menus or categories of items account for 24% of promotional offers.

Sources: Propel, Meaningful Vision

UK to consult on changing “alcohol-free” definition

A public consultation in the UK is collecting opinions on raising the limit of the definition of “alcohol-free” from 0.05% ABV to 0.5%. The move would bring the UK in line with multiple other European countries as well as the USA and Australia. Supporters claim that increasing the threshold would allow for easier manufacturing, an increase in availability of no/low across retail and hospitality and, ultimately, encourage more people to moderate their alcohol intake. Some are against the idea, claiming that many consumers actively look for a beverage containing less than 0.05% ABV.

Sources: Morning Advertiser, Oxford Partnership

Strange brews & news

Considering Cakeage?

A recent survey has unveiled that most on-trade operators (77%) allow customers to bring and enjoy celebratory cakes on their premises and won’t impose a ‘cakeage’ fee. While only 8% of surveyed operators currently implement such a fee, 15% are contemplating the introduction of a flat or per-head charge to mitigate potential losses in dessert revenue caused by celebratory slices.

Sources: The Morning Advertiser

Investments, acquisition & openings

  • Hotel group Manorview acquire the Tarbet Hotel in Arrochar, adding to their growing portfolio
  • Guinness opened a brewery in Chicago also featuring a taproom, restaurant and bakery
  • Beam Suntory announce plans to launch Beam Suntory France in January 2024
  • Vietnamese restaurant, Pho, will open sites in Fulham Broadway and Glasgow
  • Various Eateries has opened another Noci site in Shoreditch, London
  • Jack Greenall will reopen the Walmer Castle in Notting Hill
  • Roxy Leisure has opened a Roxy Lanes venue on Cheltenham High Street

Sources: Dram Scotland, The Drinks Business, Drinks International, Propel

Product launches & campaigns

  • Captain Morgan unveiled their ‘Why You Whying?’ campaign to support the launch of their 0.0% rum, referencing the negative societal pressure of asking ‘Why aren’t you drinking?’
  • Thatchers Cider add Spiced Apple Cider as a seasonal variety to its Fusion Font draft range
  • Glenfiddich team up with luxury fashion label Ahluwalia to create specially designed jackets for bar staff
  • Heineken 0.0% launches in Japan, the 110th market worldwide for the no-alcohol beer
  • Never Say Die has debuted a rye whiskey
  • Redbreast has released a distillery-exclusive 10-year-old expression
  • Sly Dog has released a spiced rum flavoured with stone fruits
  • Tortilla has launched a 5pm-8pm evening menu with drinks ‘happy hour’ for members dining in, to capture more of the evening market
  • Loungers is to stock premium Italian lager brand Menabrea

Sources: Dram Scotland, The Drinks Business, The Morning Advertiser, Spirits Business, Restaurant Online

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