Food & Drink

Lockdown al fresco: Barbecues and alcohol surge as Brits relax and enjoy sunny weather

Booms in barbecues and alcohol sales during lockdown have helped people unwind but experts remain wary of the coronavirus crisis effect on the hospitality trade.

Triple the number of barbecues – 53 million – were had in the 12 weeks to May 17 compared to the same time frame last year consumer specialist Kantar revealed – as locked-down Brits took advantage of warm spring weather.

Alcohol retail sales also grew rapidly over the same period (+33% volume), but with pubs closed Kantar estimates that at least 600 million fewer alcoholic drinks have been consumed due to the pandemic. Instead consumers kept it low-key at home.

Kantar client manager Laura Christen said: “People could plan and be more experimental at home with more time on their hands – it’s boded well for more special drinks like cocktails and craft beer.

“However a big gap remains on what has been bought versus what would have happened with no pandemic.

“Relaxing and spending quality time together are important reasons for choosing to consume in the way we have.”

Ms Christen explained that planning is very much a buzzword for lockdown shopping, with Brits seeking out delivery slots for online groceries, resulting in online year-on-year spend growth of +81% for groceries in the four weeks to May 17.

Better planning has also been proclaimed by The Waste and Resources Action Programme as a key reason for a reported 34% reduction in waste of potatoes, bread, milk and chicken during the Covid-19 crisis.

Online sales for London-based butchers The Ginger Pig have trebled since the start of the lockdown period.

The Ginger Pig head of brand and communications Amelia Woolley said: “We’re such a small team, but everyone has been amazing – especially as some risked their own health in the shops and to deliver.

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“We were not at all prepared – it was like a busy Christmas period for us, and that was just online.”

Ms Woolley expressed sadness however for businesses who have not been so lucky, especially in the hospitality industry where many haven’t been open or have needed to adapt quickly and turn to takeaways to tick over during lockdown.

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Pubs are free to reopen under the new one-metre-plus social distancing guidelines from Saturday July 4, but consumer organisation Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) remain cautious on the fortunes for the trade and intend to continue to help pubs more through online means.

CAMRA senior communications manager Katie Wiles said: “We are concerned that one in three pubs won’t be able to reopen – we know of one that needs to triple the number of staff just to cope with the table service it needs to bring in for social distancing.

“A lot more support is needed for those unable to reopen and we intend to through Brew2You.”

CAMRA introduced its Brew2You app in May to support pubs and breweries during a time where trade is low and to help reduce wastage of beer – which allows users to search by location to find pubs and breweries that are providing takeaways and deliveries.

Brew2You is available in the iStore and Google Player.

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