This Saturday marks the end of Dry January and the start of the Six Nations - could it also mark the beginning of a busy period for pubs?

Since 2013, the global rugby fan base has increased by 24 per cent and 4.8 million consumers visited the on-trade specifically for the Six Nations last year.

We've got some tips from Heineken UK about how to capitalise on the Six Nations Championships. 

1. Tackle your drinks range and encourage trade up

• Rugby fans are 22 per cent more likely to upgrade their drink and spend £40 more during the Six Nations than on any average drinking occasion. Tempt them into trading up to more premium drinks, such as Birra Moretti, Amstel or Old Mout – but don't forget that classic beer and cider brands like Foster's, Strongbow and John Smith's are still going to be popular.
• While beer and, in particular, stout are synonymous with rugby fans, 53 per cent of consumers drink wine (especially red) in the on-trade during the Six Nations, and Champagne also proves popular. Use wine displays or chalkboards to showcase your offering.
• Don't forget the moderators. Signpost your no and low options, such as Heineken 0.0 for any fans keen to soak up the atmosphere, but without the alcohol. 

2. Timing is everything

From Johnny Sexton's last-second drop goal in 2018, snatching Ireland a 15-13 win against France, to Elliot Daly's 75th minute try in 2017, sadly breaking Welsh hearts but securing the ultimate win for England, timing is indeed everything.

• Maximise weekend sales. Last year, rate of sale increased by 3.7 per cent over the weekends when matches were showing, with Six Nations' fans most likely to visit the on-trade for drink-led occasions on Saturdays. Beer drove a volume uplift of 5.3 per cent - boosted by stout, yet lager had the highest proportion of drinkers (69.1 per cent), followed by ale (21.1 per cent). 
• Boost footfall and retain customers. Sports fans arrive up to 2.5 hours before kick-off and tend to stay at the pub afterwards – no matter what the result, so there's an opportunity to boost sales beyond those 80 minutes of play. Look at 'burger and drink' style food promotions or other special offers to keep the customers in the pub.
• Capitalise on key matches. Outlets see the highest uplift when home nations play each other at the weekend. Thanks to the England vs. Wales match in 2019, rate of sale increased by 45 per cent versus an average weekend. 

3. Beyond the drinks

• More than half of consumers are looking for a great atmosphere during a Six Nations weekend. Consider setting up several screens with plenty of seating.
• Make sure to shout about the fact that you are showing the matches – both outside and inside your pub – before and during the match to drive footfall and sales. Why not encourage your staff to wear rugby shirts too?