New figures reveal Australians are gradually returning to their local after two years of lockdowns, but patronage is still lagging behind pre-pandemic levels.
Keg beer sales across the industry for the past month show pubs are fighting back after slumping drastically in January when the Omicron COVID-19 variant hit hard.
CUB revealed industry keg sales at pubs across Australia in January were down about a third on January 2020. Sales picked up in February as lockdowns further eased and mask rules relaxed. NSW pubs are faring best, followed by Victoria and Queensland where sales were hit hardest in January.
Classic brews such as Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught have bounced back strongest as drinkers seek the comfort of well-known brands, which continues a trend that started when the pandemic hit.
To help boost this positive momentum, Carlton & United Breweries is spending $1 million on an “Ode to the Pub” advertising campaign that reminds people of the special place pubs hold in their communities.
Pubs take a hit
Australian Tax Office figures show that pubs and clubs sold 40 million fewer pints of beer between July and September last year than they did during the same period in 2019 and before COVID-19.
That’s a massive drop of more than 50% in beer sales for struggling venues.
In 2020, pubs and clubs lost over $1 billion in beer sales due to lockdowns and other restrictions, but these latest figures from the ATO show that losses for 2021 could well exceed that.
The ATO recorded 903,982 litres of alcohol as having been served in beers over the counter in July-September 2021 compared to 1,993,027 litres during the same period in 2019.
Pubs have also been hit with staff shortages and supply chain issues in recent months.
Ode to the Pub ad relaunches
Launching across digital and social channels, the Ode to the Pub is a rallying cry for all those missing the pub, and importantly, a show of support to publicans doing it tough.
The 60-second spot shows a montage of old and new photos from pubs. It was first released last year, but is being relaunched across the east coast with the new line: “See you at the Pub”.
CUB’s CEO Danny Celoni, said while it was good to see some pubs bouncing back after some of the most challenging years on record, the campaign was urgently needed to help get them back to pre-pandemic levels.
“This campaign is a small display of our admiration for Australia’s pubs, and the people who make them what they are,” Mr Celoni said.
“About 70% of pubs are family-owned businesses and they’ve been doing it particularly hard during COVID,’’ he said. “They are at the centre of our communities and we encourage people to support them.’’
Australian Hotels Association (NSW) Chief Executive John Whelan said: “After an incredibly difficult two years, we’re delighted NSW pubs can now operate restriction free. Of course, many hotels still face enormous challenges, including the floods and staff shortages. That’s why we’re thrilled to support CUB’s Ode to the Pub campaign, encouraging people to get back to their local pub – the best place to catch up with family and friends and support local business.”
The campaign will run for two months in Victoria, NSW and Queensland from this week.
Watch it by clicking on the image below: