Publicans will be eagerly hoping for extra time at the England v France match this evening, when venues will be hosting “one of the biggest nights of the year.”
With the Three Lions set to take on the tournament’s quarter final this weekend, pub and bar bosses have said the game will draw in huge crowds to their venues.
However, industry voices have warned that England doing well in Qatar will still not be enough to save venues as they grapple with their third bleak winter in a row.
It comes as pubs are facing a brutal winter with energy and food bills surging, all while consumers begin to feel the pitch and cut back on spending.
Some venues have seen cancellations of up to 40 per cent of bookings ahead of a slew of rail strikes in the run-up to Christmas this month too.
All these gloomy factors mean that the success of the England team has been “possibly the one shining light within the festival period,” Night Time Industries Association boss Michael Kill told CityA.M.
Some 8.5m pints were sold during the England v Senegal game last Sunday, according to data from market intelligence firm Oxford Partnership.
Average sales of draught beer and cider grew by 22 per cent versus the previous four Sundays.
There have been signs that the World Cup boost for pubs is equating to an around 11 per cent increase in food and drink sales so far, according to UKHospitality.
Even despite pubs’ tills ringing at half-time around the country, businesses would “still not be able to offset the financial void” created by a perfect storm of challenges, nightclub body boss Kill said.
A cocktail of a “legacy of endemic debt, cost inflation challenges and the strike action during this period” posed an existential threat to many businesses, he added.
However, hospitality operators have opted to take a glass half-full approach in anticipation of the game tonight.
Boxpark – famous for scenes of football fans throwing their pints in the air in celebration of an England goal – saw tickets for the quarter-final match sell out in less than two minutes.
The hospitality operator said it had sold out for every England game so far, with tickets selling out in less than half an hour.
It sold more than 10,000 pints across its East Croydon, Wembley and Shoreditch venues during the England v Senegal match – with 85,000 pints sold across the tournament so far.
The first two England World Cup games resulted in like-for-like drink sales up around 50 per cent versus the year before, pub chain Marston’s said this week.
Tonight’s knock-out tie would “undoubtedly be one of the biggest nights of the year for our sports pubs,” according to Steve Alton, chief of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), which has more than 9,000 members.
The football tournament was offering many venues “a much needed and deserved boost to trade,” Alton said.
“Winter will be tough for many people, but pubs at the heart of their communities have always been and will always be a place for connection, celebration and friendship,” Alton said.
Pubs are also raring to enjoy their first Christmas free of Covid fears in three years, with London-focused chain Fuller’s “juggling the football and Christmas parties”.
An atypical winter World Cup “shows how a great pub can wear many different hats,” chief executive Simon Emeny said.
“We’ve got outstanding people in our pubs who always rise to a challenge – and hopefully England will do the same and we can again show our ability to be agile and flexible the following Wednesday when we make the semi-final,” Emeny added.