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Pubs and bars signal optimism as restaurant sector continues to suffer

Published:  15 July, 2019

The latest CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey, canvassing opinion from hospitality industry leaders, has revealed concern over the frequency of consumer visits to pubs, bars and restaurants during the second half of 2019.

Some 45% of leaders believe that consumers will eat out less frequently in the next six months, with only 9% suggesting they will do so more often, as rising costs, intense competition and uncertainties over Brexit all conspire to deflate consumer confidence.

With just 41% of business leaders “fairly or very optimistic” about the prospects of the eating and drinking market over the next 12 months, down 6% from last year, 65% remained optimistic about their own business prospects, although this figure stood at 75% a year ago.

One notable contrast between those surveyed was revealed by the contrasting levels of optimism between drinks-led business operators and those focused on food.

Sixty one per cent of drinks-led business said they felt optimistic about the market over the next 12 months, in stark contrast with just 33% of food-led business leaders.

Lending weight to this predicted trend, the report cited CGA’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which showed far stronger like-for-like sales growth for managed drink-led operators in the 12 months to Q2 2019 than food-led outlets.

CGA group chief executive Phil Tate said: “The patchy optimism among food-led business leaders confirms that 2019 has been a rough ride, with casual dining operators buffeted by ferocious headwinds and several high profile brands struggling.

“But leaders of drink-led businesses clearly feel they have much more to look forward to - a sign that after many years of pub closures and restaurant expansion, the tables have turned.”

The Report also emphasised the need for investment to retain a competitive edge, revealing that a third of business leaders are planning to up the speed of refurbishments this year, with focus on “making the most of their existing assets rather than expansion”.