Demand for cocktails is driven by young drinkers… however, falling beer sales make Wetherspoons’ job difficult

According to Wetherspoons pub chain, cocktail sales have soared as more young drinkers go out for a drink at the bar.

But beer sales have plunged as older punters – its core customers – stayed at home.

Tim Martin, the founder and CEO of the company said that while Covid is still a risk, some older customers were ‘understandably careful’ about their trips to locals.

Changing tastes: Wetherspoons has seen sales of drinks such as cosmopolitans and mojitos rise 45% from two years ago while traditional ale sales declined by 30% and stout by 20%

Wetherspoons is seeing a shift in taste: Sales of drinks like cosmopolitans, mojitos, and mojitos rose 45% over two years. Traditional ale sales dropped 30% and stout sales fell 20%.

This led traditional ale sales to decline by 30 per cent and stout by 20 per cent in the 15 weeks to November 7, Wetherspoons said in a trading update, compared with the same period of 2019 before Covid struck.

Sales were overall down 9 percent.

But sales of drinks such as cosmopolitans and mojitos, in contrast, were up 45 per cent on two years ago while vodka sales were 17 per cent higher and rum 26 per cent to the good. 

Analyst at Liberum Anna Barnfather said Wetherspoons is lagging behind the larger market because of the decline in elderly customers. In September, sales rose by about 3 percent compared to 2019.

Wetherspoons shares tumbled to the bottom of the FTSE 250 index last night – dropping 7.2 per cent, or 74.5p, to 954.5p – as investors fretted about how long it will take to bounce back.

Martin, a vocal Brexiteer, founded Wetherspoons 1979 in London’s Muswell Hill. He admitted that Wetherspoons’ performance “will depend, in some degree, on the outlookfor the Covid-19 virus”. 

He said, “While we are cautious about the near-term sales of booster vaccines, better weather in spring and other factors will likely have a positive effect on the next months.” 

Wetherspoons had to close 19 of its pubs during the pandemic lockdowns.

Beer crisis: Wetherspoons founder and boss Tim Martin stated that older clients were ‘understandably prudent’ when it comes to trips to the local, even though there are still Covid dangers

Clear evidence of the continuing effects of the pandemic was seen in London’s airport, central London and stations at train stations that are now much busier than prior to the epidemic.

Because many people live far from the city centre, it also led to a drop in sales of breakfast and coffee.

The pub chain offers a variety of cocktails, including a vodka-cranberry cocktail called The Woo Woo as well as Jack Daniel’s whiskey-based drink called The Godfather.

Wetherspoons has no music policy in any of its pubs. However, it stated that music sales at Lloyds No.1 its music-playing pub chain were only marginally greater in 2019, which could be attributed to a larger percentage of young customers out having fun.

Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Laura Hoy said that a shift towards younger patrons could spell doom for Wetherspoons.

Hoy indicated that the fears of older customers about leaving should wane once the pandemic has been under control. But it is impossible to know how long that will take.

Wetherspoons owns more than 900 pubs. They are well-known for their conversions of former cinemas, opera houses and bank branches.

Better news was reported by the company on recruitment and supply chain issues. They stated they had ‘almost always been in a position to find alternative solutions, overall stock levels were comparable with previous years, and that things have improved in recent weeks.

Recruitment problems that caused staff shortages at holiday destinations have been mostly resolved. Since April, when the pubs reopened, 37,000 people had been employed. Now it has more than 42,000.