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Bars bounce back after snap lockdown

Punters came out in droves last weekend reeling for a drink after a five-day snap lockdown in Victoria, boosting sales by 20 per cent.

Data from me&u shows the pre and post lockdown (February 5 and 6 versus February 19 and 20) sales figures not only recorded the sharp spike, but also indicated 24 per cent more tips state-wide. The espresso martini was strides ahead in cocktail list popularity over the weekend, up 42 per cent.

Consumer confidence and spending at a Friday night drinks continues to grow with 100 venues across the state enjoying a 47 per cent increase in orders and 68 per cent more tips when looking at sales from February 5 to February 19.

Me&u founder and hospitality entrepreneur Stevan Premutico said the data was further proof that despite some concerns in the community, most Victorians want to support the industry by enjoying a drink at their favourite local.

He said the reports show a shift in consumer behaviour across the state when there is a spike in reported cases of COVID-19 or the government announces another lockdown.

“Melbourne’s venues continue to battle through the hospitality restrictions and snap lockdowns. However, we saw a cracking day of trade over the weekend and the Victorian story is clear – people came out in droves to have a beer and support their local after lockdown, hopefully this is just the start of better things to come.

“Supporting local is at the heart of who we are as a nation. There is a deep appreciation for what the hospitality has been through, so people want to spend their money with local businesses that have worked tirelessly to stay open and serve the community.

“At the same time, we now appreciate how vital hospitality is in our lives, and how awful it is to have that taken away. During COVID, we have all really missed catching up with a mate over a beer at the local pub or sharing a meal at the local restaurant with family. It’s these moments that we crave most. So we’re seeing Aussies wanting to get back out there to enjoy their city and socialise with friends as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Premutico said the increase in Australians tipping is one of the silver linings that has come out of COVID-19, stating: “there is a greater appreciation for the work hospitality staff do”.

Me&u recently introduced a successful tipping function to its ordering platform.

“As a community, we’re seeing people really value what they do; how hard they work to create magical experiences for us every day. I think Aussies also respect the lengths the hospo industry has taken to make their venues as safe as possible – COVID check-ins, wearing masks, limiting customer numbers, transforming businesses overnight.”

Made in the Shade group director Zara Madrusan added: “It was a strong weekend which was very welcome after missing out on Valentine’s Day bookings last week. The neighbourhood venues thriving particularly. Keep showing the love Melbourne”.

In NSW, residents are becoming increasingly confident and filling up their local watering holes as the state celebrates 36 days of no community transmissions.

The research shows have grown 15 per cent last weekend compared to the one before, with tips also up 20 per cent. The NSW drink of choice for consumers during the warm weekend weather was Aperol spritz.

The Spreakeasy Group operations manager Greg Sanderson saw his venues have a “noticeably big” jump in sales at the weekend. He said across the group Speakeasy had a better weekend than it has in the previous 14 months.

“Most of our bookings came from the prior weekend. Almost no one cancelled when the snap lockdown happened and instead, when they had the greenlight to head out for the weekend, bookings increased.

“Events were a big reason for our surging sales, we had bigger sized bookings with birthdays and master classes able to go-ahead again.

“Our Nick and Nora’s in Melbourne had standout champagne sales, with a lot of top end champagnes going out on Saturday. People were in the festive mood and out celebrating.”

Speaking on Speakeasy Group’s plan to capitalise on the surging on-premise popularity and easing venue restrictions, Sanderson said: “We’ve already seen a boost in booking sizes, but the return of live music from eased restrictions will be a big focus for our group going forward”.

“At both our Nick and Nora locations in Sydney and Melbourne we’re going to be introducing live music for the first time this Sunday. People missed going out in 2020 but are now looking to go out for the missed special occasions, so live music will be a big focus for our success moving forward.”

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