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Late summer spells trouble for restaurants

Published:  15 October, 2018

The restaurant trade suffered another tough month in September with sales dampened by the late summer, while the pub industry continued to bask in the sun.

Restaurant groups saw a 0.2 decline in like-for-like sales in September compared to the same period last year, with managed pubs recording 1.9% growth, according to CGA’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Overall, the managed pub and restaurant sector saw a 1.1% uplift in like-for-like trading last month, but that was due “entirely to strong pub sales” - and especially from drink, according to the Tracker.

“As ever, the good weather played a big role, and although restaurants as a whole failed to benefit, it provided an overall boost for the out-of-home market as the public were tempted out,” said Karl Chessell, director at CGA, which produces the Tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

Regionally, London outperformed the rest of the country with like-for-like sales ahead 2.0% against 0.9% for outside the M25.

London pubs and bars also had the best of the trading with like-for-likes up 3.0%, said Chessell, adding it was worth noting that within those national managed pub numbers, food sales were flat, with drink sales up 3.0%.

Although casual dining chains were collectively finding trading difficult, they were not in wholesale retreat, he said.

“Despite some high-profile announcements of site closures, many are still opening in new locations, especially out of London. As the data for September shows, while same-store sales outside the capital were down 0.4% for the month, total sales were up 2.4%, fuelled by restaurants opened over the last 12 months.”

Underlying like-for-like growth for the 49 companies in the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 0.6% for the 12 months to the end of September, virtually the same as at the end of both August and July, showing that the eating and drinking out market remains consistently flat.