World Cup boost for grocery

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Usually when we head into a big event or celebration, we can look back at what has happened previously to predict consumer behaviour.

However, with Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022, it is starting in November rather than the usual summer fixture. With this hitting at a time when Brits are typically gearing up for Christmas festivities, what can we predict for the World Cup this year?

More in-home meals and celebrations…

Previous World Cup tournaments have had minimal impact on grocery sales with the foodservice market typically seeing a boost. However, this year there are three factors meaning in-home is likely to benefit:

  1. With the World Cup falling during Winter the foodservice market already sees a boost at this time due to Christmas parties. Therefore, overall footfall may not increase further, particularly during the latter stages of the tournament. Coupled with this, pubs, the biggest channel to benefit from sporting events, will have less seating area for fans than summer months, where many take advantage of outdoor screens and seating.
  2. This is the first World Cup since the COVID-19 pandemic and we know that legacy behaviours of working and socialising more at-home will naturally result in more at-home meals and celebrations.
  3. The added economic context of the cost of living crisis means that 40% of consumers plan on spending less on going out to pubs and restaurants in the next 3 months, with them favouring the cheaper alternative of staying in (Two Ears One Mouth, Sep 22).

…but there are still opportunities out-of-home

Foodservice establishments may have a slightly harder job than usual to entice consumers out for World Cup celebrations, but value for money is likely to be a key driver of footfall. Consider food and drink deals, or group packages, such as a burger and a pint offer. This tactic should also be utilised for delivery and takeaways, which we believe is the biggest opportunity for the market. During the Euros in 2020 food delivery played a huge role, partly due to there being a rule of 6 in pubs and restaurants. But we know takeaway and delivery usage has stabilised at a new normal way above pre-COVID levels. Therefore, play on sporting deals and treating, benefiting typical treat led delivery occasions of pizza, kebabs and burgers.

Some grocery shopping behaviours will stay the same…

From previous tournaments we have learnt that purchasing typically happens close to the day of the game, and on the actual day if it is a midweek game. This benefits convenience stores which in the past have seen share rise during World Cup months. Therefore, tactical support and meal inspiration should be heightened around these times. Also evening games create bigger opportunities for groceries, with midweek daytime game viewing being hindered by work patterns.

…while others will differ due to the cost of living crisis

Almost 9 in 10 consumers are concerned about the cost of living crisis, with food prices a key driver, according to consumer research agency Two Ears One Mouth (Oct 22). This will come as no surprise as food and non-alcoholic beverage inflation hit 14.6% in September (ONS). There are several ways consumers are trying to mitigate this when shopping, with AHDB’s recent Cost of Living webinar highlighting consumers are trading down within product categories, tiers and stores.

In-home celebratory meal planning will be based on the season

Previous summer tournaments exacerbated the sales uplifts for BBQ cuts, such as burgers and grills, marinades and ribs, typically seen during the summer. This is at the expense of cuts such as roasting joints, stewing/diced and mince. However, we suspect consumers will not be firing up their BBQs in the cold weather and therefore we predict celebratory meals are more likely to mirror what we see at winter events such as Halloween and Bonfire Night. This benefits primary roasting joints, mince and stewing, with hearty, warming, sharing meals being prominent at these times. Pizza, benefitting cheese, also spikes at this time of year because it is good for sharing. Party food, which has prominence in store for Christmas, may also be a convenient crowd pleaser. One category which is likely to remain seeing a sporting boost is beer. Therefore, any meal which can be linked to the beer category may benefit.

What must be considered is how far the home nations get in the tournament. From previous years we know the further the team get the more fans are likely to spend, with final stages typically having bigger celebrations. However, we need to remember that some shoppers will be more interested in preparing for and celebrating the run up to Christmas. Therefore, both retail and foodservice channels need to strike a balance to support both events which focus on very different types of meals. But what we do know is that this year during November and December, after COVID ruined plans for many last year, consumers will want to celebrate and treat themselves, albeit with slightly tighter purse strings.

Click here for our Christmas 2022 predictions

For more information on how celebrations and seasonal events boost food spend please see our importance of events for food report.



Image of staff member Kim Heath

Kim Heath

Lead Retail Insight Manager

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