Get a quick quote

Support your local: The best cities for festive drinks this Christmas

17 November 2022 Data Insights
HH 1

Heading out to your local pub with family or friends is one of the best ways to get together to celebrate the festive season. With no restrictions or pending lockdowns, 2022 is set to be the first year of ‘normality’ since the pandemic started in 2020.

The UK is globally renowned for its selection of pubs and bars and is reportedly home to an impressive 23,400 independently owned pubs[1]. It has even been estimated that this year the UK pub and bar market will reach 98% of the pre-pandemic market value recorded back in 2019, making it worth around £22.5bn[2].

However, despite market intelligence predictions that pubs, bars and restaurant sales are set to rise above £380m in the two weeks leading up to Christmas combined, data from BBPA and Lumina Intelligence, has revealed that consumers are spending 55% less than previous years in these venues due to the cost of living crisis having a negative impact on disposable income[1].

So, to help support these local pubs, bars and restaurants this festive season, we at Paymentsense have investigated which cities have the highest number of drinks offers and promotions this Christmas. Better yet we’ve analysed independent pubs and restaurants so Brits can continue to support local without breaking the bank!

Ranking the best cities for supporting local this Christmas

Due to inflation and rising energy costs, experts are predicting that the cost of a pint in some areas across the UK could rise up to £14 in as little as two and a half years time, meaning that pub-goers will become increasingly savvy when it comes to spending to make sure they’re getting the most pints for their pounds [3].

This study ranks the top 15 cities based on the following points, to find out where in the UK you can find the best drinks offers and promotions whilst still supporting your local, independent pub:

  • Average rating of pubs in each city according to PubsGalore
  • Total number of pubs in each city
  • Average cost of a domestic pint (£)
  • Average cost of an imported pint (£)
  • Top rated independent pub in each city according to PubsGalore
  • The number of pubs that offer drinks promotions within PubGalore’s top rated 30 pubs in each city

Why supporting your local pubs and businesses is important

Supporting your local pub by grabbing a pint goes much further than you might think. Not only are you supporting the local economy, but you are helping to keep people in their jobs and stimulating the demand for more jobs.

There is nothing like going into your local pub and being greeted by a familiar face who knows you and your go-to order, adding that personalised touch to the service. Loneliness in communities can be found up and down the country, pubs create a space for locals to meet up and socialise with others on a regular basis.

The Last Orders for Loneliness Scheme aims to highlight the importance of individuals belonging within the local community. They believe that pubs are the heart and soul of a community, creating a space for companionship.

The top 15 UK cities for festive celebrations this Christmas

Rank City Average rating of pubs in city
Total number of pubs in each city Number of independent pubs in PubGalore’s top 30 rated list that offer drink promotions Domestic beer average price Imported beer average price Top rated independent pub in each city
Total index score (out of 100)
1 Glasgow 7.9 695 11 £4.00 £4.00 The Avenue 56
2 Stoke-On-Trent 6.7 287 9 £3.50 £3.50 The Red Cow Inn 49
3 Sunderland 6.8 118 10 £3.50 £3.50 The Borough 47
4 Nottingham 6.5 493 5 £4.00 £3.75 The Thorn Tree Inn 45
5 Cardiff 6.1 202 15 £4.00 £3.60 Thackeray 41
6 Leicester 6.4 257 9 £4.00 £3.88 Blue Bell Inn 39
7 Manchester 5.7 788 10 £4.39 £4.75 Alliance Inn 39
8 Leeds 6.1 475 7 £4.00 £4.10 Coach & Horses 36
9 Edinburgh 6.8 454 8 £4.50 £4.50 The Bailie 36
10 Liverpool 5.4 645 10 £4.65 £3.90 McCooley's 35
11 Sheffield 6.1 486 7 £4.00 £4.00 The Pitsmoor 35
12 Birmingham 5.8 461 9 £3.88 £4.00 Malt Shovel 37
13 Bristol 6.2 671 7 £4.50 £5.00 Bristol Bear Bar 33
14 Coventry 6.0 162 9 £3.50 £4.00 Samoan Joes Tiki Bar 32
15 London 5.5 3,278 9 £6.00 £5.00 Fox & Anchor 32

Glasgow is the best city in the UK for festive celebrations in top rated pubs

Photograph of Glasgow Christmas market stalls in daylight.

Source: Reach PLC/Daily Record

Glasgow is known for its beautiful architectural styles and is renowned for its prestigious art schools. Not only is the city perfect for immersing yourself in the culture, but it has also been ranked as the best city in the UK for a festive bar crawl on a budget. There are many traditional Scottish drinks to try out when visiting Glasgow this festive season. Whisky is one of the most popular Scottish drinks. Scotch whisky is malt whisky which is produced in the Highlands. Punters can find a range of whiskies in bars, each with their own unique taste. Irn Bru is also an iconic Scottish drink and is popular as a mixer with spirits.

Our data has revealed that Glasgow has the highest average rated pubs in the index, proving that punters are guaranteed to have a great time when celebrating the festive period in the city. There are 695 pubs in the city to choose from, with a large selection of independent pubs. Data has revealed that 11 out of 30 top rated pubs in the city have drinks offers and promotions, making them the perfect location for a festive beverage with friends and family without breaking the bank.

The Avenue, Bishop Briggs, Glasgow is the highest rated pub in Glasgow. During the festive season the pub offers a festive menu where guests can enjoy a classic Christmas dinner or a Hogmanay feast to celebrate the new year. Tripadvisor reviews quote how the venue has a good atmosphere and a great selection of food and drinks!

Cardiff offers the best range of drinks offers and promotions in local pubs and restaurants

Photograph of Cardiff Christmas stalls in daylight.

Source: Visit Cardiff

Known for its abundance of beautiful castles and booming nightlife, the Welsh capital city, Cardiff, offers the best range of drinks offers and promotions in local pubs and restaurants of all cities analysed. With 50% of the top 30 rated independent pubs having happy hours and drinks offers- it means that a good time doesn't have to come with a huge price tag in Cardiff!

The average pub rating in Cardiff is a solid 6.1 out of 10. The Thackery leads as the highest-rated pub in Cardiff, where you can enjoy a 3 course Christmas Dinner for £32 ahead of a night of festive drinks. Customers have left fond reviews of the Thackery on TripAdvisor, saying “the drinks on offer are fantastic, such as the lemon drizzle cake cocktail” and describe the atmosphere as being “warm and friendly”, which is perfect for any festive activities.

Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland are the cheapest cities in the UK for a pint

Stoke-on-Trent and Sunderland drew in first place as the cheapest cities in the UK for a pint, with an average price of £3.50 for both domestic and imported beers. Stoke-on-Trent has 9 pubs which offer drink promotions in their top 30 rated pubs, including The Berwick Inn, which is one of the top rated pubs in the city. Drinks offers include 5 jager bombs for only £10, perfect for any Christmas-do’s on the wild side!

10 out of the top 30 pubs in Sunderland have regular drinks promotions and offers, including The Stumble Inn, who offer £10 bottles of prosecco on Saturday- pop a cork in celebration surrounded by friends and family for an affordable price!

The cities spending the most in pubs during the festive period

Heading to pubs and bars during the festive period is one of the best ways to celebrate with friends and family- it is the season to be merry after all! Our data has revealed which cities see the biggest uplift in spending in December compared to the three months previous in pubs, bars & restaurants.

Doncaster saw the biggest increase in spend in 2021 alone compared to the 3 months prior, with an incredible 105% increase.

Halifax was the second biggest spender in December 2021 in pubs, bars and clubs with a 55% increase in spending as punters headed out to celebrate the Christmas period. Wakefield follows closely behind with a 41% increase in spending during the festive season.

Rank City Percentage increase in spend for pubs, bars & clubs in December 2021 versus the three months prior
1 Doncaster 105%
2 Halifax 55%
3 Wakefield 41%
4 Craigavon 39%
5 Preston 36%
6 Chorley 36%
7 Chelmsford 28%
8 Reading 26%
9 London 25%
10 Stockport 24%
11 Coventry 24%
12 Bradford 23%
13 Stoke-on-Trent 22%
14 Hull 21%
15 Swansea 21%


The week before Christmas is predicted to be the biggest spend in pubs, bars and clubs in 2022

Our data revealed which week of 2022 pubs, bars and restaurants can expect to see the biggest spend. Analysing data from previous years, experts at Paymentsense predict that the week before Christmas will see the highest spend in 2022. Forecasts from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) suggest that sales could rise above £380m, 98% of what they were in 2019, for the weeks commencing the 12th and 19th of December combined, a triumphant figure in comparison to previous years with restricted festivities.

How to prepare your small business for the festive period

With such fantastic sales forecasts, it’s important to ensure you and your business are prepared. So we at Paymentsense have put together a few tips to help you be ready to thrive this festive season.

  1. Festive drinks promotions can help to get customers through the door
    They do say Christmas is a time for giving, so why not introduce a festive drink promotional offer, this can help you to stand out against competitors and customers through the door! Advertise your drinks offers to punters to get them through the doors. Social media is one of the best ways to promote your events and promotions.
  2. Prepare your staff
    With the world becoming increasingly cashless, this Christmas may see more contactless payments than ever before, especially considering the increased footfall that festivities can bring. It is important to ensure that all staff are comfortable and confident using your card machines as this can minimise any possibility of queues building and reduce wait times for customers.
  3. Get festive
    Filling your establishment with festive cheer shows customers how much you care and makes an overall better venue for Christmas celebrations, making it a more competitive option for work and family parties. Be sure to post images of your decorations to social media to spread the word and promote engagement.
  4. Prepare for expenses in advance
    Ensure that you have prepared in advance for any costs of Christmas, such as decorations, staff parties, holiday pay requirements and any wages of any temporary employees. Christmas is an expensive time of year for all, so it is best to be prepared to prevent any unwanted surprises.

Ready to get into the festive spirit? Be prepared to serve customers this Christmas with Paymentsense card machines.


All pubs from each UK city were taken from PubsGalore providing us with the average rating of pubs within certain regions. We utilised this in conjunction with research into the top 30 rated pubs in each city and their drinks promotions based off of online menus and information shared by each pub. Data from Numbeo was used to find out the cost of Domestic and Imported pint in each region.

  • Average rating of pubs in each city | PubsGalore
  • Total number of pubs in each city | PubsGalore
  • Average cost of a domestic pint | Numbeo
  • Average cost of an imported pint | Numbeo
  • Top rated independent pub in each city | PubsGalore


Why wait? Take card payments in just 3 days.