Pub chain JD Wetherspoon reported its highest sales at Easter and the busiest Saturday in its history, with cash-conscious drinkers seeking cheaper options amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Wetherspoon’s, which operates more than 830 branches in the UK and Ireland, said it had benefited from increased sales in the past two weeks, which included bank holiday weekends.
He described the first weekend, when the May 1 bank holiday fell, as “exceptionally strong” for trading, with its “busiest Saturday.”
However, Wetherspoon’s said last weekend, including King Charles’s coronation, it was slightly less crowded in its pubs, reporting last Saturday that it was “remarkably quiet”. The company suggested that many customers may have purchased alcohol from supermarkets to consume while watching the ceremony at home rather than in hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.
The group said it expected to achieve record sales for the current fiscal year, following recent strong trading levels, while forecasting its annual profit to be close to the highest level expected by financial markets. It said comparable sales were 12.2% higher in the 13 weeks to April 30, 2022, and 12.7% higher year-to-date.
Sales for the pub chain are stronger than before the coronavirus pandemic, with comparable sales over the 13 weeks to the end of April 9% higher than the same period in 2019.
The company reported that it now employs about 1,000 more workers than it did before Covid, with a current workforce of just under 43,000 people.
Wetherspoon’s has opened three pubs so far this year, while 21 premises have been sold, closed or returned to the owner, providing the company with a new cash inflow of £4.7m. The company said most of the pubs it had closed were either smaller and older, or had a second pub nearby.
The upbeat sales report marks a change in fortunes from late 2022, when Wetherspoon’s said it was closing locations amid a slow recovery in trade after the pandemic and associated lockdowns and faced with “substantially higher” costs. including labor and food costs.
Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said the Covid lockdowns and restrictions had had “deeper and more lasting consequences than most economists, politicians and commentators predicted.”
He warned that despite the “positive momentum” in sales, inflation in food, energy and labor costs remained a “most intractable problem.”
Weeks after Martin warned it could be “catastrophic” for pubs and restaurants to delay raising prices amid rising costs, he urged politicians to “encourage free enterprise” to tackle inflation rather than rely on it. the introduction of new regulations.