Shares in Wetherspoons dipped on Wednesday after it was revealed that like-for-like sales for the past 15 weeks are 8.9 per cent down on levels from the same period in 2019.
The pub group, led by Tim Martin, revealed the despite strong demand for cocktails from young customers, many of its older punters are staying away, resulting in a9.6 per cent decline in bar sales.
Draught products, which are traditionally bought by its older customers, saw significant declines amid caution due to the pandemic, the pub chain said.
Sales of traditional draught ales declined by 30 per cent and stout sales fell 20 per cent.
Covid-19 booster vaccinations
Mr Martin, chairman and founder of the company, said he hopes the rollout of Covid-19 booster vaccinations could help improve its trade among older customers.
“With no music in Wetherspoon pubs, apart from 46 trading as Lloyds, a material proportion of our trade comes from older customers, some of whom have visited pubs less frequently in recent times,” he said.
“As outlined in our annual report, published in October 2021, there have been no outbreaks of Covid-19, as defined by the health authorities, among customers in Wetherspoon pubs.
“However, some customers have been understandably cautious. Improvement in trade will therefore depend, to some extent, on the outlook for the Covid-19 virus.
“Whereas we have an increased element of caution about near-term sales, booster vaccinations and better weather in the spring are likely to have a positive impact in the coming months.”
Wetherspoons added that its food volumes “appear to have been affected by some customers working from home”, with sales of breakfasts dropping by 22 per cent and coffee sales falling 30 per cent.
The company also told investors it has had “some problems from time to time” within its supply chain over the period, but it stressed these related to a “minority of items” for which it could find alternatives.
It added that stocking levels for both bar and food products is in line with previous years and problems have eased further in recent weeks.