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Here Comes The Sun 2023

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Excitement for summer 2023 is already kicking in. With an extra May bank holiday, the King’s Coronation, Eurovision, and sporting occasions all summer long, there’s lots of opportunities for on-trade venues to tap into that summer feeling and bring the punters in.  

All About the Experience 

Research from PROOF Insight found that in summer 2022, a quarter of all visits to the on-trade were described as “special occasions” by customers and that throughout 2022, 42% of under 45s preferred to spend money on experiences than items.  

With tightening purse strings, offering customers unique experiences is key. The on-trade is the perfect place for consumers to celebrate occasions, explore new flavours and innovative cocktails or immerse themselves in activities with friends. 

Bumper Bank Holidays and a King’s Coronation 

Anticipation is high for three bank holiday weekends in May. Across 2022’s Early May Bank Holiday, total wet-led sales were up 21% compared to the average weekend in April and May. Sunday and Monday saw the greatest uplifts, with over 50% of the weekend uplift coming from Sunday trading. (Source: Heineken) 

This year, PROOF Insight predicts that 4 in 10 consumers will be visiting the on-trade over the Early May Bank Holiday weekend. This is great news, as it shows that UK drinkers are keen to be out in our favourite pubs and bars across all the May bank holidays. 

Making the most of another Royal occasion  

During last year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, pubs who had activations for the event saw an incremental uplift of 4.7% compared to those who didn’t. (Source: Heineken) With King Charles’ Coronation taking place in May, this landmark event is also something venues can tap into to drive footfall and give their sales a boost. 

Heineken’s February 2023 Consumer Sentiment Survey found that 65% of British the British public are interested in the upcoming Coronation and 75% of pub visitors are interested in celebrating the Coronation in the on-trade. Of those who said they were not interested in the Coronation, 71% are still open to visiting the on-trade during the bank holiday weekend.  

Our Top Tips  

  • Use social media to drive more traffic by advertising early, making the most of your outdoor spaces, and encouraging bookings 
  • Entice drinkers to visit your venue with weekend deals, themed events and patriotic decorations, creating the perfect space for memorable experiences 
  • Drive more sales with in-house promotions or staff incentives 
  • Encourage longer dwell time with quizzes or other engaging activities 
  • Spotlight your range of British drinks, such as English wines or London Dry gins  
  • Excite customers with Coronation themed cocktails or play into the Britishness of the occasion with classic cocktails such as Pimm’s or the Bramble

Other calendar events to watch out for 

Events can be a great opportunity for venues to draw customers in and tapping into what’s already happening in the calendar will make theming and timing easier to map out.  

Eurovision 2023  

But you’ve also got some other big events, such as Eurovision, which is back in the UK for the first time since 1998. Hotels were quickly booked up in Liverpool and the surrounding areas, so appetite is high to enjoy this pop culture phenomenon.  Venues could think about hosting Eurovision parties or themed events. UK cinemas will be showing the grand final for the first time, so perhaps venues could also think about broadcasting on their big screens. 

People love a themed event, so think about creating fabulous cocktail specials for the evening, injecting a bit of FOMO to encourage more visitors.  

Sporting occasions  

 Sporting occasions are a great way for pubs to give punters a reason to visit. According to PROOF Insight, on-trade sports watchers spend 10% more than the average customer per visit. This summer is packed with blockbuster sporting occasions. 

Summer staycations are trending again 

PROOF Insight predicts that this year, the number of Brits preferring to staycation in the UK rather than go abroad for their holidays has increased to 39%, up from 27% last year.  

More holiday makers in the UK will provide a necessary boost not only for hotels but other venues too.  PROOF Insight found that in 2022 69% of those taking a UK holiday visited a pub and 65% visited a restaurant. Operators in coastal areas look set to benefit the most, with 55% choosing coastal towns last year. 

Overseas visitors holidaying in the UK are also expected to add to the boost in sales for hospitality. Early forecasts for the coming year from Visit Britain show projections that Britain will see record levels of inbound visitor spend of £29.5bn. 

Our Top Tips:  

  • Advertise booking availability early, through social media or, if budgets allow, activating some press advertorials 
  • Consider holiday packages or deals that cater to different groups of people – from couples seeking a romantic getaway or families looking to spend time together  
  • Spotlight local products - PROOF Insight research found that 73% of customers like trying local drinks while on their UK holiday

Summer Drinks Trends 2023  

Some of the 2023 trends predicted by PROOF Insight look set to continue well into the summer months.  

Rosé wines are soaring in popularity, taking +1.1% share of total wine volumes in the on-trade. Venues can make the most of this by offering a lighter rosé such as a Provence, or something more robust and structured depending on customer preferences.  

This year, customers are seeking exciting flavours to elevate their drinking experiences. Flavoured spirits are still dominating, and more flavoured beers and ciders are coming into the mainstream. Spiced rums currently lead the charge in flavoured spirits and the rum category in general, taking 10.9% of rum volumes, with new launches that explore tropical notes of coconut and pineapple.  

With exploration in mind for UK customers, demand for premium world lager shows no sign of losing momentum. There’s been a growing trend of pairing beer with food – particularly in restaurants. Many of those making an outing for food enjoy pairing beers and cuisines of the same origin, which is helpful when venues are planning their beer offering. For example, 43% of under-45s would prefer to drink Italian beer when eating Italian food. 

Meanwhile, the love for spritz cocktails in the summer shows no sign of cooling down. Last summer, the Aperol Spritz went from the 19th most consumed cocktail to the 6th. Spritzes have the celebratory air of sparkling wine, let customers explore exciting flavours and can be a lower alcohol alternative to a traditional cocktail. 

2023 is all about escapism through taste, and what could be a better time to take customers on a taste adventure than summer! Venues that offer something customers can’t readily get at home will be winning, particularly as those keen to experiment have said they are happy to pay a little extra for a premium option. 

Our Top Tips:  

  • Prepare your summer drinks menu early – review what you’ve already got and where changes might need to be made 
  • Train staff so that they are confident to upsell and make perfect cocktails  
  • Get in touch with Matthew Clark to see how we can help you tailor your drinks menu to maximise on the summer season. Contact us here 

Reasons for optimism this summer  

Although inflation and cost-of-living is putting financial strains on both customers and businesses, a packed summer 2023 is looking hopeful for the UK on-trade. Venues can make the most of the excitement by advertising promotions and events early, get those bookings in, and provide a place for customers to create their memorable experiences.  


About the author

Mary McCarron

Mary looks after the majority of Matthew Clark's digital marketing comms. After a couple of years working in tech, she found her way back to the hospitality industry and can now be found talking all things cocktails, spirits, beer, softs and more across our website, social media, and other digital channels.

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