With Covid restrictions still in the process of being lifted, one might guess that the sales forecast for restaurants and pubs for Sunday's Euro 2020 soccer championship between Italy and England could be uncertain.
But that doesn't seem to be the case, according to a new report in The Guardian, which estimates that pubs in England will sell 13 million pints on the day of the final. However, the report still notes that "strict rules" in place, for many pubs, means that hosting the finals "will not be enough to rescue their struggling finances."
While pub crowds are usually higher by about 200% to 300% on match days, Covid restrictions have meant that sales for the Euro 2020 have only been up about 60% on match days, the report says.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of industry trade body UKHospitality, said: “We are seeing an uplift in drinks sales on match days but because of capacity constraints it is nowhere near as much as it would usually be.”
For example, one pub in Norwich will be "full" - but the owner notes that this only means 30 customers. The owner said: “We are obviously fully booked. I’ve been turning away people for weeks who want to watch the football but social distancing and the need to be seated limits our capacity. I think everybody’s grateful to be trading again but it’s still very difficult.”
Still, The British Beer and Pub Association says 13 million pints will be sold on Sunday and 7.1 million will be sold during the match itself. Without Covid restrictions, that number would be likely closer to 17 million, the report says.
“It has brought people together though and pubs are the next best thing to being there,” one owner said, also commenting he was disappointed about the restrictions and could have "taken a lot more" customers.
But make no mistake about it: if England wins the Euro, restrictions may not be able to keep the crowd in check. Another pub owner stated: “Publicans have worked incredibly hard to abide by the rules and regulations, but whatever the rules are, people will sing and celebrate if England win.”
“Our main tactic has been to inform customers what is expected when they arrive, not after they have had a few,” Alistair Skitt, who runs the Lord High Admiral pub in Plymouth said. “Our staff make it very clear Covid rules are still being enforced: that customers have to wear masks when they go to the toilet, and there should be no excessive shouting and screaming at the screen, which is very difficult to enforce as I’m sure you can imagine.”