Wetherspoon’s recovery is stalled as the older patrons remain at home, while ales are kept in the barrel.

  • Wetherspoon’s sales were 8.9% lower pre-pandemic.
  • This marks an improvement on the 17.8% figure recorded in the previous quarter 
  • According to the pub chain it saw stronger sales from younger customers 

JD Wetherspoon sales are 8.9% lower than before the pandemic, as older customers continue to avoid the chain.

Wetherspoons partly attributed this decline to the ‘less frequented’ pub visits by older customers. These are a’material proportion’ of Wetherspoons’ trade.

Today, the firm announced that sales of bar and food, as well as slot machines, were down by 9.6%, 8.1%, and 12.3% respectively in the quarter ended November. 

Wetherspoons trade remains well below pre-pandemic levels as older patrons stay away

Wetherspoons trade is still well below levels pre-pandemic, as more elderly patrons remain away 

The results are a slight improvement over the 17.8 percent dip in comparable-for-life-sales in the prior quarter. However, it was not enough for Wetherspoon shares to fall by approximately 4 percentage points in early trading.

According to the pub group’s data, younger people drank more cocktails during this period. The sales of vodka, vodka and rum increased by 45%, 17%, and 26% respectively.

However, traditional ales sales fell by 30% during the quarter while stout sales dropped by 20%.

Wetherspoons received some encouraging news with its like-forlike hotel revenues increasing by 11.5 percentage. The Lloyds brand pubs that have music were up 0.5%’reflecting the higher percentage of younger clients’.

It also stated that the pub chain was capable of overcoming well-publicized recruitment and supply chain problems.

Additionally, commerce has been favorable in larger towns and cities, with Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford and Oxford showing the most impressive results, recording revenue growth of 9.1%-11.1 percent and 11.3 percentage points, respectively.

However, trade in London remains at 17.4% less than it was in 2019. Trade is also lower in the suburbs.

Nevertheless, the airport- and train station trade is still at 38.8% and 22.4 percent, respectively.

Chairman Tim Martin (right): Some customers ‘have been understandably cautious' about returning to the pub

Chairman Tim Martin (right), Some customers were ‘comfortably cautious’ about going back to the pub.

Chairman Tim Martin indicated that customers have been ‘understandingly cautious’ when it comes to returning to their pubs. Wetherspoons’ outlook therefore depends on the outcome of the Covid-19 viruses.

He said: “While we are more cautious about the near-term sales, booster vaccinations and warmer weather in spring will likely have a positive effect in the next months.

“The past 18 months have been a challenge for the hospitality industry with unexpected turns and challenges.

“As it has done in past downturns, we will focus on providing excellent service and reasonable prices. We also plan to make small, regular upgrades.

Wetherspoons shares traded at 4.4% less midmorning at 983.5p. Year-to-date, losses were 5.3%

Hargreaves Lansdown Equity Analyst Laura Hoy stated that sales of drink popular with younger customers has risen, while the number of draughts preferred by more experienced pub-goers is declining.

Wetherspoons is a company that caters to this group. A permanent shift in the other direction might be problematic.

“More likely” is a lack of care among the most vulnerable population as Covid spreads despite vaccination efforts. As the pandemic is under control, this attitude will likely change. However, it’s not clear how long.