This week: Train Strikes – Christmas 2023; Restaurant Promotions; Alcohol-Free Definition
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
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
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
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
Sources: Dram Scotland, The Drinks Business, Drinks International, Propel
Sources: Dram Scotland, The Drinks Business, The Morning Advertiser, Spirits Business, Restaurant Online