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On-trade shrugs off Brexit gloom

Published:  14 October, 2019

Like-for-like sales in the on-trade rose 1.2% in September, according to the latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Pubs led the positive trend thanks to the warm weather, with like-for-like sales up 1.9%, while restaurant sales ticked up 0.4%, the survey shows.

Underlying like-for-like growth in the on-trade is running at 1.8% for the year to 30 September.

The on-trade figures are in stark contrast with the performance of the overall retail sector, which saw like-for-like sales in September fall back 1.7%, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.

The BRC pinned the decline in sales on uncertainty over a no-deal Brexit.

Karl Chessell, director of business consultancy CGA, which produces the monthly tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “Just looking at retail as a barometer of the nation’s well-being, you would be forgiven for thinking we were deeply depressed. But the eating and drinking-out numbers paint a very different picture. It may be that pubs and restaurants are providing welcome relief from the constant news of Brexit uncertainty.”

Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The comparison with retail illustrates the extent to which consumers are opting for intangible experiences with their disposable leisure spend.

“This shows a move towards sustainable consumerism—where purchasers shun superfluous fashion goods in favour of experiences and are increasingly looking for sustainably-sourced foods and healthy eating menus, both away from the home and in the home.”

Growth was marginally stronger outside London, with the on-trade growing 1.3% in like-for-like sales outside the M25, ahead of the 1% growth recorded in the capital.

Total sales, which also account for new openings in the last year, were up 4.3% on September 2018.

The Coffer Peach Tracker analyses data from 54 restaurant and pub groups across the UK covering both large and small operations with a collective turnover of over £9bn.