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Cold weather fails to dampen eating out sales in January

Published:  12 February, 2015

Restaurants and managed pubs saw like-for-like sales grow 1.4% in January, despite the snow and cold weather.

This demonstrated the 22nd month of like-for-like growth, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which analyses data from more than 30 restaurant groups across the UK, including Mitchells & Butlers and Pizza Express.

"Trading in the early part of the month suggested that January might have finished down on the same month last year, but a late surge in business saw the sector remain in positive growth," said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS. "Perhaps it was down to the pay-day effect or just people tiring of 'dry' January, but the sector and in particular restaurants saw the benefit," he added.

Restaurant groups saw a 4.1% increase in like-for-like sales during the month, with pub sales broadly flat, up 0.2%. Food sales outstripped drink in January, up 2.8% versus a 1.2% fall in drinks sales.

Total sales, which include the impact of new openings, were up 5.8% against last January across the 30 restaurant, bar and pub companies in the Tracker sample. Trading in London was only marginally ahead of the rest of the country during January, up 1.8% against 1.3% outside the M25.

David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: "These figures reflect the continuing demand for drink-led venues to include a substantial food offer and that these are becoming more sophisticated with increasingly interesting food and also drinks menus. The quality of product now available across a wide range of operations, especially in central London, and to an ever greater extent outside of London, is galvanising the public's interest in one-stop venues. We believe this will continue until ultimately there will be a virtually comprehensive merge of both."

He added that demand for premises in London, suburban and provincial centres was at its highest in his firm's 50-year history.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said the figures highlighted "growing consumer confidence". "Total annual sales growth of 5.8%, more than double recently published GDP figures, indicates the success of the sector in attracting a greater share of disposable income."