Fresh hopes of a summer consumer spending boom that will lead the UK economy out of the pandemic arrived today when Cineworld said the weekend smashed expectations and pub chains cheered growth.
Cineworld said attendances soared in the reopening weekend — with families splashing out on popcorn and other treats — and pub groups saw bumper revenues despite downpours.
Cineworld, the UK’s biggest cinema chain, endured an eye-watering £1.7 billion loss in 2020 as screens shut worldwide.
The shares, up 4% to 90p today, had tumbled to 25p in October, and it had to seek emergency bail-outs from investors of around £900 million.
A strong reopening weekend led by family blockbuster Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, saw attendance and sales “beyond our expectations”, with popcorn demand leading to “strong concession income”.
Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said the group anticipates that most of its 793 screens across the world will reopen by the end of May. He said: “With the releases next week of Cruella, and A Quiet Place 2, we expect next weekend’s results to be strong.”
Later on Monday Odeon gave a positive update on its reopening week, with 37,000 visitors on Monday May 17 alone, and more than double the attendance of any weekend during the July-November 2020 reopening period.
Pubs also boomed as punters ignored lousy weather. Patrick Dardis, chief executive of pub group Young’s, said revenues were up 10% on last July’s first reopening weekend. Clive Watson, chairman of London’s City Pub Group, said sales last week were “significantly ahead of last year despite the weather”.
Shares in City Pub Group and Young’s were up 4.6% and 1.6% respectively this morning.
On May 17 cinemas reopened for the first time since Christmas, and hospitality could resume indoor service.
A study by Scottish Friendly and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), found that UK consumers are estimated to be holding an extra £192 billion after making lockdown savings. Around £50 billion of that is expected to be spent.
Airlines and holiday firms have already reported a surge in bookings, while retail sales jumped 9.2% in April month-on-month as non-essential shops reopened.
UK Cinema Association chief executive Phil Clapp told the Standard that the weekend saw an “extraordinary number of sold-out shows” around the country.
He said: “Even with some sites still closed, total box office is now well over £10 million, with Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway heading towards £5 million in revenue. This includes box office this weekend of over £7 million. Given the challenges that continued social distancing presents to the capacity of all UK venues, that’s far beyond initial expectations.”
Clapp said revenues should increase at half-term thanks to “the impending release of further major titles”.