After the drought...

Six Nations rugby fans give big uplift to pubs

rugby promotion
Pubs have signed up to promote the tournament

Pubs were given a huge boost by the opening matches in the Six Nations rugby championship at the weekend.

New figures show that nearly 17.5 million pints were served before, during and after the games, with Scottish hostelries enjoying the biggest uplift in trade.

The rugby drew 30% more consumers into bars, and with back-to-back games on Saturday (Ireland v Wales, followed by the Scotland and England encounter), it also encouraged people to stay 38 minutes longer.

Hospitality insight company the Oxford Partnership, which compiled the figures, said pub-goers in Scotland celebrated the Calcutta Cup win by consuming an extra 238 pints per venue. Wales followed with 184 more pints, with England at 149 additional pints.

The data, published by website Beer Today, reveals that the biggest winner was the headline sponsor, Diageo, which saw sales of Guinness rise 48% over the weekend.

Lager also performed well, with the premium lager category, made up of brands such as Stella Artois, gaining 51%, while the world lager category, which includes Birra Moretti, Corona and Peroni, up 65%.

Alison Jordan, chief executive of Oxford Partnership, said: “While it is still early days for 2022, such strong data at the start of the Six Nations indicates a solid recovery is ahead.

“It is so exciting to see the industry only performing slightly behind 2019, driven by a growing consumer confidence shown in the increased footfall.

“However, we urge government to continue to support the industry, which has been under so much strain over nearly two years.”

Anticipation of a good weekend was evident as the Heineken-owned pub company Star Pubs & Bars said more than 1,000 outlets – a record number – had signed up to support the tournament. It claimed 55% of its Scottish leased pubs – as well as its entire managed estate – are promoting fixtures with signage, posters and match-day offers.

John O’Connor, head of digital & retail marketing at the group, said: “Rugby viewers differ from the average pub goer and typical football fan, with more mixed groups and families enjoying the sport.

“Their broad appeal makes rugby matches a fantastic revenue driver and a great way of increasing dwell time and spend – and with 44% of sports fans saying they plan to watch the 2022 Guinness Six Nations live in a pub, the revenue potential of the championship for pubs looks better than ever.

“The level of engagement demonstrates how keen pubs are to make the most of every event and regain lost ground after two years of lockdowns and restrictions.”

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