There’s nothing quite like a warm summer to help drive extra footfall, sales and profits – and it’s widely predicted that this summer is set to be a cracker. When the mercury rises, people are invariably far more inclined to venture out with friends and family to enjoy a few drinks and maybe some food – and if you are lucky enough to have an outdoor hospitality area at your venue, so much the better.

The last couple of months have been chock full of opportunities to grow your business, including a run of sales-boosting bank holiday weekends and, of course, there are another four on the way in May.

The biggest event of all, however, is likely to be the coronation of King Charles III on the 6th of May, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration that’s likely to see the nation come together to toast the new king. It’s been 70 years since the last coronation, so it’s not unreasonable to expect that the coronation weekend will be an opportunity like no other.

If you really want to mark the coronation in style, be sure to stock Greene King’s unique Coronation Ale, a limited-edition cask ale brewed specially to commemorate the occasion.

Hot opportunity

The coronation, then, will help the trade get off to a flyer in May but with warmer weather upon us and another couple of bank holiday weekends on the horizon in May, it’s a wonderful time to start planning for a bumper summer.

Another fantastic opportunity to take advantage of is a special promotion being run by Greene King in May and June which offers venues free branded parasols when they order 2x9G casks of Greene King IPA, Abbot Ale or Old Speckled Hen. Increase your order to 4x9G casks and you can collect five free parasols.

The offer is available from the 16th of May to the 20th of June while stocks last and is a perfect opportunity to enhance your outdoor drinking area and help your guests make the most of the better weather.

To help you make the most of the summer opportunity, we have been working with our research partners at CGA to identify the top five out-of-home summer drinking trends. Post-Covid, the market continues to change and evolve rapidly, so ensuring your offer is in line with the latest consumer trends will be key to making the most of the next few months and squeezing every penny of profit out of the critical summer sales period.

As the summer gets into full swing, CGA by NielsenIQ research reveals that in the last summer before Covid, the summer months accounted for a whopping 31% of all on premise sales by value. That represents a total spend of £9,795m in the summer months in 2019. This emphasises the huge importance of summer in the positioning of drinks brands and the venues that sell them, and the need to understand how consumers’ preferences change from the rest of the year.

People chatting and drinking in a beer garden

 

Key trends

Here are five of CGA’s key insights to help venues flourish this summer:

1.  Cider shines

CGA data from the last ‘normal’ summer of trading in 2019 shows cider shines in summer. Cider took 7.2% of all on-premise drinks sales over the summer in 2019, significantly higher than the category’s average of 6.0% over the rest of the year. Daily breakdowns of sales show it performs particularly well on hot days.

Serving Suggestions: A great option would be the new Kopparberg Summer Punch, a limited-edition variant from the UK’s leading flavoured cider brand.

Also, consider installing Thatchers Fusion to cater for cider drinkers looking for new flavours, particularly as new installs come with free geo-targeted social media support from the brand to dive footfall.

 

2.  Lager up

Beer’s share of the market stays steady all year around, but there are significant sub-category trends to follow. As drinkers seek more refreshing drinks, standard lager takes an extra 0.4% of beer sales in the summer while premium world lager takes even more at 0.6%. Given its popularity in 2022, it is likely to flourish over the next few months.

Serving Suggestions: Estrella Galicia is a fantastic option, providing a little authentic Spanish flair – and it’s also available in a 0.0% format. Plus, there are some fantastic deals available this period.

 

3.  Gin wins

When the sun is out, many spirits drinkers turn to light choices like gin and tonic. Gin grows its share of total spirits sales by 1.8% over the summer. Spirits like rum and tequila can also be expected to perform well this summer, given their growing popularity and their versatile serving options. Vodka’s resurgence post-Covid and similar adaptability is also likely to lead to summer success this year.

Serving Suggestions: To help boost profits, take advantage of the deal in this issue which offers you a free bottle of Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo gin and a case of Schweppes Slimline Tonic when you order any four 70cl bottles from the Chase and Tanqueray ranges.

 

4.  White and rosé lead in wine

Perhaps surprisingly, wine loses 1.2% of drinks share in the summer, but the category has two big winners: white and rosé. They grow their splits of the wine market by 2.8% and 1.1% respectively – at the expense of red wine, which loses 3.7%. Sparkling wine has performed well since lockdowns ended and should enjoy a decent summer.

Serving Suggestions: Cash in on the rosé trend with Boutinet Showdown ‘Widow Queen’ White Zinfandel Rosé or La Ruchette Cotes du Rhône Rosé, two delicious fruity wines perfect for long, warm days.

 

5.  Cocktails mixed up

CGA’s Mixed Drinks Report shows how consumers’ cocktail choices change with the seasons. More than two in five (43%) choose their options based on the time of year, and nearly two thirds (62%) prefer different flavours. Spritzes are a particularly good bet for the summer, with just over three quarters (77%) of consumers choosing them at least occasionally. Iced or slush cocktails—which two thirds (66%) of consumers who have seen them would like to try—could also be poised for growth this year.

Serving Suggestions: Whether you’re new to cocktails or specialise in them, there are a number of special promotions in this issue that can help you make the most of the summer cocktail opportunity.

 

Staycation boom

Another factor that is likely to benefit venues this summer is the continuation of the staycation boom, as consumers say they are more likely remain in the UK this summer than they are to go abroad.

The latest GO Technology report from CGA and leading hospitality tech provider Zonal reveals that the majority of consumers (81%) are planning to holiday in the UK in 2023, as cost-of-living pressures deter them from taking trips abroad.

The survey of more than 2,000 UK consumers highlights the continued opportunity for domestic venues in 2023 with nearly half (44%) of consumers saying that they will avoid hotel stays overseas due to cost-of-living increases. A further 39% said they’d be ‘staycationing’ simply because they would prefer to travel within the UK rather than abroad this year, up 12% from 2022.

Even better news, consumers choosing to holiday in the UK say that the frequency of their staycations will increase with just under a third of consumers (28%) planning to stay at a domestic hotel more than once this year.

With more consumers planning to holiday at home in 2023, venues have a significant opportunity to attract more guests and boost profitability, so it’s vital that they are prepared.

 

Summer cask

Cask ales also present a huge opportunity this summer. Greene King’s Limited Edition range is perfect for bringing new drinkers into cask ale and encouraging existing cask fans to try some new, lighter ales over the summer months.

The special commemorative Coronation Ale is of, of course, a must-stock in May as the refreshing, easy-drinking golden ale is sure to be a hit as coronation fever sweeps the nation.

The Limited Edition range, however, also includes a number of other releases that have been brewed, especially for the summer months. Hopping Special Amber Ale is a new offering packed with fruity flavour and available throughout May and June.

Also worth trying out is St Edmunds Golden Ale, available throughout June. A fresh golden beer, it delivers delicious pink grapefruit notes and will slip down well on a summer’s day.

Finally, why not consider Pave The Way Pale Ale, the result of a collaboration between Greene King and Big Hug Brewing. Not only is it a delicious, easy-drinking pale ale packed full of caramel, watermelon, peach and stone fruit flavours, the ale also helps support the Only A Pavement Away charity, which connects forward-thinking employers in the hospitality industry with prison leavers, veterans and people facing homelessness.

CGA and Zonal research has found that the key drivers for consumers choosing hospitality venues in 2023 are as follows:

Price (66%)

Location (61%)

Hygiene standards (41%)

Good customer service (39%)

 

Create an Instagram-worthy beer garden!

If your venue is lucky enough to have some outdoor space, creating a beer garden or freshening up an existing one is a great way of making the most of those warm summer days. Here are five top tips for creating a beer garden worthy of Instagram…

 

Get green fingered!

Sprucing up your garden needn’t be time consuming or expensive. Plant a few brightly coloured flowers, cut the grass, trim the edges and tidy up any paved or pebbled areas and help enhance the relaxing, natural environment that will bring more customers and keep them there longer.

 

Focus on furniture!

Attractive, comfortable, hard-wearing furniture and fixtures can help make your beer garden a more inviting and enjoyable spot for your customers to while away a few hours. Get as creative as you like with everything from wheelbarrows, bean bags and benches to parasols and blackboards. It all helps make the garden feel welcoming.

 

Brighten it up!

Adding some bright, vibrant colours in whatever way you choose can help lift your beer garden and make it truly Instagram-worthy, particularly for younger customers.

 

Add a bar!

If you’ve got the space and licensing rules permit, why not added a dedicated outdoor bar to make it even easier to your customers to quench their thirst on a hot summer’s day. You can offer a limited menu to make it easier and also to encourage your customers to buy higher margin products.

 

Tailor your food!

Drive up food sales by offering a summer menu in the garden with lighter dishes, or get the BBQ going, a great way to drive sales as customers get wafts of that irresistible smell.

Summer months accounted for 31% of all on premise sales by value in 2019.

Summer months spend in 2019 totalled £9,795m.