BOOZE sales more than doubled in bars and restaurants on Monday compared with before the pandemic as eager Brits returned to the pub.
Alcohol sales skyrocketed by 113.8 per cent compared to the same day in 2019 as thousands packed into outdoor beer gardens across England for the first time in months.
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Pubs, restaurants and bars which reopened on Monday as lockdown eased have said their sales doubled on levels before the coronavirus pandemic struck, as Brits enjoyed their first taste of freedom in at least three months.
Huge queues were seen outside boozers from midnight and continuing throughout the day – despite temperatures plunging to -3C.
Hospitality data specialists at CGA said that drink sales jumped by almost 114 per cent on the first day of outdoor trading, compared with the same day in 2019.
The “solid performance” proved just how keen Brits are to get back to socialising with friends and family, and provided optimism for the beleaguered hospitality industry, said experts.
"The first day of trading after England's lockdown showed a fairly solid performance and demonstrates how consumers were keen to enjoy their first drink out with like-for-like drinks sales up nearly 115% for outlets that were open compared with the equivalent day in 2019,” said Jonny Jones, CGA's MD for UK & Ireland.
The figures are especially promising as only 38.2 per cent of venues had the outdoor space so they could reopen this week.
The figures, for the 41,000 licensed premises able to open outdoors, showed a dip of 12 per cent in food sales however.
"Food sales didn't fare quite so well, at 12% below 2019 levels, but this is understandable given that operators can currently only trade outside," pointed our Mr Jones.
On Monday, total sales were almost 60 per cent up on the same level two years ago, as strong drink sales were partly offset by weaker demand for outdoor dining during the cold weather.
Crowds were pictured at pub beer gardens, outdoor bars and al-fresco restaurants around the country despite cold temperatures – with some people even braving heavy snow to enjoy a pint.
But the weather is set to improve, and by April 23 much of the UK will be enjoying the best of the mini-heatwave with temperatures up to 19C, according to WXCharts.
Britain is also set to bask in 15C sunshine this weekend as drinkers pile into pub beer gardens and raise a glass to Prince Philip.
The warmer weather is a huge boost for boozers on the first weekend since coronavirus restrictions eased across England.
Venues will be able to reopen for indoor trading from May 17, in the third phase of the Government's road map.
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