Falling sales of bitter and stout contribute to 8.9 percent dip in sales compared to numbers achieved two years ago. Wetherspoons is having to weather the storm.
Leading PubCo JD Wetherspoon has highlighted a two-tier market with younger drinkers driving sales of cocktails, and rum (up 45 percent and 26 per cent respectively) compared with a decrease in sales of traditional ales (- 30 percent) and stout (- 20 percent) which are favoured by older drinkers.
Wetherspoon, which declared like-for-like sales that were 8.9 percent lower than the record achieved in 2019 for the 15-week period to November 7, argued that the decline in sales was in part caused by a reticence among older drinkers to return to public places. Tim Martin, Wetherspoon founder and chairman said: “A material proportion of our trade comes from older customers, some of whom have visited pubs less frequently in recent times.” He added that some patrons remained “understandably cautious” although booster vaccinations and improved weather in the spring would have a positive impact. The effects of working from home also meant that breakfast and coffee sales were considerably lower.
Analysts said that any permanent shift which involved older customers staying at home would represent bad news for the Wetherspoons brand. They also said that Wetherspoons was lagging behind the wider market which in September saw sales rise by 3 percent compared to the same period in 2019. The Wetherspoon’s success story has seen the estate grow from 44 pubs when it floated in 1992 to its current position where it operates some 860 pubs in the UK and Ireland employing a workforce of over 40,000.