Over 70% of foreign visitors make a visit to a Scottish pub to sample the local atmosphere as part of their holiday experience, according to a drinks trade survey.
The findings emerged in the Scottish Licensed Trade Association’s half-year On-trade Market Review, sponsored by KPMG UK.
Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the SLTA, said: “Our survey covers all types of licensed premises and is an indicator of the key challenges facing the wide range of small to large businesses which trade within the wider hospitality sector.
“Our survey is based upon quantitative research from 500 outlets covering the length and breadth of the country and is supported by major chains, independent operators and our partners in the Scottish Bartenders Network.
“Up against a buoyant market in 2018, fuelled by the World Cup and a hot summer, there has been a slight slowdown in the market, but retailers remain optimistic for the rest of 2019. Overall, 56% of outlets surveyed reported their business as growing or stable, with local food and drink and online bookings being key drivers of the market.
“We are also delighted to see retailers evolve to meet emerging market trends, with 15% of outlets seeing an increase in sales from the Women’s World Cup.”
Wilkinson also pointed to recent research indicating 71% of foreign tourists visit local pubs. “We are proud of our continuing support for Scotland’s Food and Drink 2030 Ambition,” he said. “But there are concerns, particularly around Brexit. In our Christmas survey, 17% of respondents said that Brexit had negatively impacted upon them, and this number has increased to 28%.”
He added: “Looking forward, however, retailers are overall optimistic about their sector, with 72% anticipating growth or stability in the rest of 2019, with growth led by Scottish gin, online bookings and craft beers.’’
The report is the latest annual review from the SLTA and provides key insights on food and drink performance directly from front-line retailers across city centre and rural locations.
Alistair McAlinden, head of hospitality and leisure at KPMG in Scotland, said: “In what remains a highly uncertain trading climate, it is very heartening to see that more than half of operators report their business as being stable or growing. Perhaps, unsurprisingly – and following the prevailing trend in the UK casual dining market – the number of operators reporting growth has fallen compared to 2018, albeit a hot World Cup summer set a high bar last year.”