Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Sunshine gives pubs and restaurant a lift

Published:  15 April, 2019

Pub and restaurants grew like-for-like sales by 3.8% last month compared to March 2018 when trade was hit by the ‘Beast from the East’, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

London saw like-for-likes up 5.5% this March, with the rest of the country up 3.3%. Managed pubs were collectively up 4%, with restaurant groups up 3.6%.

“March last year was a month to forget when snow brought much of the country to a standstill,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, which produces the report alongside the Coffer Group and RSM. “Both pubs and restaurants felt the effects with like-for-likes across the board down 3.1%, so these latest figures will be a relief as the sector regains lost ground.”

Pubs also saw a recovery in both food and drink sales over the month, although drinks trade grew 5.7% against a smaller 2.7% increase in food, suggesting the “underlying trend for drink sales to outstrip food sales is continuing,” said Chessell.

“The big test, of course, will come with the results for April and the Easter holidays. Last Easter was a bumper time for the sector with sales ahead 5.9% on the holiday weekend the year before, boosted by the fact that many people didn’t go out in March. The pressure to match that this time is now on.”

Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said the results “show that revenue levels across the sector returned to March 2017 levels last month. The market remains challenging for many casual dining operators who continue to face unprecedented levels of competition. The wide variety of choice including the popularity of food halls, markets and pop-up street food offers around the country continues to draw custom away from conventional restaurant and pub outlets and are increasingly the social meeting place of choice for younger consumers".

Saxon Moseley, senior manager at RSM, said “pub and restaurant groups bounced back this March with strong like for like performance unhindered by the poor weather conditions of last year. With the later Easter break in 2019 and the possibility of progress on Brexit, there is cautious optimism that April will see a loosening of consumer purse strings and further good news for the sector.”

Total sales across the 52 companies in the Tracker, which include the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 6.1% compared to last March.

“The latest figures have essentially got the market back on an even keel, as underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, reached its highest level since July 2017, running at 1.5% for the 12 months to the end of March, a marked improvement on the 0.9% at the end of February,” said Chessell.