Sporting start to 2024 offers opportunities for the on-trade

Anyone who watched Scotland’s narrow Six Nations victory over Ireland will appreciate how a sporting occasion can boost beer sales… (Pic: Scottish Rugby)

LIVE sporting events will offer on-trade operators their biggest footfall opportunity in the first quarter of this year, according to the Budweiser Brewing Group.

The start of the year usually sees a dip in consumer spending, plunging the drinks trade into the doldrums – but the opening three months of 2023 benefitted from no less than seven sporting occasions that topped the list of ‘key-selling’ moments, with rugby Six Nations matches accounting for five of them.

“Following the Christmas and New Year’s buzz, businesses will be used to slower trade during the beginning of the year,” said Maria Neves, head of category management for the UK at Budweiser Brewing Group. “However, there are still plenty of occasions that will drive people back into their local. We are a nation of sports fanatics and have a host of major tournaments approaching that are key dates to offer a chance for venues to benefit around the quieter moments in the coming months.”


Research suggests that a premium sports offering is ‘strongly linked’ to premium beer sales as viewers are more likely to trade up when watching games, compared to the average consumer. Sporting occasions are often ‘beer occasions’, and consumers look for well-known brands during these moments.With the 2024 Six Nations tournament now underway, Budweiser encouraged its trade customers to make the most of the opportunity.

“The annual competition will dominate the drinks sector throughout the quarter, with home nation games expected to cause a spike in sales, offering on-trade venues a real chance to maximise sales on the day,” said Budweiser.

“This is vital for venues as sporting fans spend an average of 36% more money when eating and drinking out, compared to those who don’t watch sports when visiting on-trade venues.”

Looking ahead, venues might also think about screening more mid-week league and international football fixtures at this time of the year, as a way of building momentum to become a fan-favourite location in time for the summer’s UEFA Euro 2024 tournament.