Inaugural winter World Cup boosts Welsh pub trade

Fears bars would miss out on trade this winter have been squashed by passionate fans packing out the pubs at all hours

Welsh fans singing and chanting before Wales’ second game against Iran [Credit: Matthaus Bridge]

Despite fears that the Qatar World Cup would hamper pub profits this winter, early figures show the Cardiff pub trade is booming, according to new research.

According to marketing experts CGA, sales in bars and pubs were particularly buoyant across Wales after the nation’s first World Cup qualification in 64 years. Trade across the opening week was up by 37% compared to 15% in England. 

Figures compiled back in September by Simply Business estimated that UK pubs were set to miss out on £155 million due to the World Cup being held during the winter, which is typically a quieter time of year for publicans. On top of this, the cost-of-living crisis raised fears that football fans might choose to stay home for the first tournament to be hosted by a Gulf state. 

A staff member at the Queens Vaults, one of the oldest pubs in Cardiff, confirms the World Cup has positively affected business, especially when Wales plays, and although the pub caters for a traditional rugby crowd the football has been a huge success. 

Traditionally, according to the worker, the winter months see a drop in business. While the kick-off timings during working hours initially raised concerns, the World Cup has boosted sales, created a unique atmosphere and encouraged a togetherness he believes has been unlike anything else.

Highest selling drinks during Wales and England’s group stage matches

Huge competition

National pub chain Wetherspoons has decided to broadcast FIFA World Cup games for the very first time this year, and although this news caused concern for smaller local businesses, a city centre pub has said it hasn’t affected trade.

The cost-of-living crisis has seen the price of alcohol rise over the last couple of months, and although Wetherspoons agreed not to raise alcohol prices during the tournament, local pubs maintain their customers will stay loyal.

“We have very strong customer loyalty here, and they’ll come down and celebrate any sporting event involving Wales,” he said.

Will Rees, 24, chose to watch Wales’ unfortunate display against England at the Queens Vaults with his friends. “The atmosphere was great, and we all know the importance of keeping these places going, not just for the staff but for the community,” he said. 

Although Wales’ World Cup came to a disappointing end, data from Barclaycard payments show that spending in bars, pubs, and clubs in the UK increased by 20.5% when comparing it with the same day in 2021. A boost in income, according Cardiff pub workers, that was sorely missed over the pandemic, and a great source of support to keep the trade going.