BBPA survey shows pub Xmas bookings down as operators pull out stops for World Cup

With new data showing a 20% drop in pub bookings for the festive season compared to usual, and pubs across the country continuing to struggle with rising business costs, many are hopeful the World Cup will provide a boost despite its winter timing.

In a survey of almost 5,000 pubs conducted by the British Beer and Pub Association, bookings for the festive season were down but pubs hoped that the World Cup would deliver 10% in extra bookings as the tournament got going, an event, which in the summer months would usually add a boost of £155m to the industry.

Many pubs are keen to maximise the opportunity in difficult times, with 2/3 of UK pubs (c.30,000 pubs) set to host screenings of some kind. To accommodate as many fans as possible, many will be utilising recently revamped outside space, having upgraded areas during the pandemic with heaters and other features when restrictions prevented people from meeting indoors.

Andy who runs The Hop Pole, a Punch pub in Crewe said: 'We're pulling out all the stops for the World Cup and aiming to make our screenings as family friendly as possible so everyone can enjoy the tournament, we'll have video games and bouncy castles available for kids throughout all the games.

“Our local community is really excited, we're already fully booked inside for all the England games so we've made sure our outside areas will be fully utilised as well, with a 20 ft inflatable screen and covered outdoor areas. Our themed menu is set to add to the atmosphere as well, with burgers representing different countries, because The Hop Pole is a place where everyone can enjoy the World Cup.”

Michael who runs The Ball, a Greene King pub in Sheffield said: “The team at The Ball can’t wait for the World Cup to begin, I’ve been at the pub for three years, but this is my first World Cup tournament. In fact, this is my first major football tournament as the Euros were heavily restricted because of Covid but even then we had the most amazing atmosphere.

“We’re going all out for the first game as we have a brass band booked to start the World Cup right as well as some party to songs to build a fun atmosphere to kick off the tournament.”

BBPA's CEO Emma McClarkin said, “Football and pubs go hand in hand and even though times are incredibly tough and the cost of doing business is still rocketing our publicans are still ready to provide a warm welcome to fans. And investments in outside space and equipment made during the pandemic will make sure people can enjoy the tournament at their local whatever the weather.

“As with so many sporting events pubs will be at the heart of and hosting screenings in communities across the country. We’re hoping this World Cup to provide a significant boost to the industry and are urging people to get out and support their local if they can by cheering on their favourite team with a pint in hand!”