Shropshire Star

Mixed views on boost from winter World Cup for pubs across West Midlands and Shropshire

Pub owners across the West Midlands say a winter World Cup has provided only a minimal boost despite claims of a 'sales bounce' nationally.

England fans watching the game at the Salopian Bar in Shrewsbury. Picture by Phil Blagg Photography.

And landlords say the bigger picture means a lack of a summer tournament this year means they may have missed out on a greater lift.

This month's Coffer CGA business tracker revealed, nationally, that pub, bar and restaurant groups saw overall like-for-like sales increase by 3.7 per cent compared with the same month last year.

The increase was primarily down to an 8.1 per cent sales increase at pub venues with Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, saying: “The World Cup is providing some welcome respite as fans come together to celebrate in their local pubs."

Beer sales were also up by 50 per cent thanks to the World Cup, pubs group Marston’s said last month.

But a Simply Business report said the controversial decision to host the 2022 World Cup in winter had led to UK pubs missing out on a huge £155 million in sales this summer.

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, said: “Pubs and independent hospitality businesses play an integral role in both our local communities and the success of the wider UK economy.

“Having been hit disproportionately by the impact of the pandemic, owners are now having to contend with soaring costs and rising energy prices – for many, this summer has been about survival as their recovery from the impact of the pandemic continues.

“This made the lack of a summer World Cup an even bigger blow. Now more than ever, small businesses needed a boost. The surge in trade would have come at a critical time for hospitality owners, many of whom are working hard to stay afloat while battling the impact of a surging cost of living."

Ozzy's Sport Bar in Newport

And, though locally, pubs said there had been some benefits of staging the World Cup so later in the year, the lack of a summer tournament had been a negative.

James Aspray, owner of Ozzy's Sport Bar in Newport said: "It has not been as good having a World Cup in the winter.

"I can't say it has been terrible but it all came to an abrupt end when England got knocked out. We had a great quarter final night, a bumper one as you'd expect from a Saturday night.

"But, other than that, we have had some good nights but nothing world-breaking.

"When we have it in the summer, it is mega.The average football fan is starved of football a bit in June and July, because the Premier League has finished in May, so come out more.

"I've seen other pubs in the town rammed previously because they have outdoor areas as well. I have been in the game a long time so I never pin the year on a World Cup or Euros. You get a bit of an upturn that month but that's it really."

Ben Stanford who runs The George & Dragon in Much Wenlock said: “The lack of summer tournament football has resulted in lost revenue, as we would have been showing all of the home nations games.

"I’m not sure how the rest of the year is going to pan out with the impending increase in energy costs and I’m not sure we’ll make much extra by showing the football in December.”

North Street Social, North Street, Wolverhampton

Johnny Jones, leaseholder of North Street Social in Wolverhampton, added: "It's not been terrible, more indifferent. It's obviously been better than if it wasn't on at all but, trade wise, it has been nothing to write home about.

"The main difference is that with a summer World Cup, people tend to stay out a lot longer and extend their evening, which is obviously better for us."

Ollie Parry, joint owner of The Salopian Bar, Shrewsbury, said his business had been busy but questioned it's overall impact.

"We have been crazy busy at times, turning people away for England games. It has been heaving," he said.

"And, personally, I have enjoyed a winter World Cup but, looking at the bigger picture, it is better to have it in June from our point of view."

Kev Ripard and Ollie Parry from the Salopian bar, Shrewsbury

"June is a quieter month of the year for us, normally, when trade drops off after the Premier League ends. In November and December, we tend to be busy anyway.

"The games in Qatar have brought that extra trade such as when England have played on a Monday or Tuesday. They were buster days which we wouldn't normally have.

"But, with the weekend games, we are full anyway at this time of year so it hasn't overly changed our outlook."

The manager of The Crown in Albrighton, Tina Hodgkins, recently told the Star: "The World Cup has been a good time for us. The football has made a big impact for us."

While football has offered something of a boost, a less restricted Christmas, will be of more benefit, adds Mr Aspray, of Ozzy's Bar.

"We're looking forward to a normal Christmas now and, for us, January, though not a great month for pubs, isn't too bad for us as the students come back in the middle of the month," he said.

"These are tough times for pubs and we have a lot of worries on our hand next year with the electric bills, which will cause problems in the industry.

"We just have to wait and see what happens with that. We have one eye on it and it is very scary that energy bills could triple or quadruple. The government make the right noises that they will help hospitality and if they stick to their pledges, we will be alright, but we are in limbo a bit."