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Mid-week on-trade spend in major Northern cities booms

Published:  12 March, 2020

Northern cities have started to shed their ‘weekend party image’ with ‘seven day socialising’ taking hold, according to new research.

An analysis, based on CGA data, of leading bars and restaurants in some of the UK’s major cities has shown that ‘midweek’ spend in Leeds, York and Manchester increased by an average of over 17% over the last four years, outstripping the 7% of London, according to he North’s hospitality trade exhibition Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB), which carried out the research. 

The research showed the weekly leisure patterns of major Northern cities were "rebalancing, with an increasing variety of audiences driving ‘mid-week’ sales, establishing a seven day trading pattern which is closer to that of London’s", it said.

“Restaurants and bars in cities like Manchester and Leeds traditionally did the vast majority of their business on the weekend, as drinkers and diners flooded in from regional towns and suburbs, whereas weekdays could be very quiet. This move towards ‘seven day’ socialising is welcome as it makes it much easier for restaurants and bars to manage stock and staff and evens out cashflow,” said Thom Hetherington, CEO of NRB.

Although seven day socialising is seen as a traditionally ‘London’ phenomenon, Hetherington insisted “it’s not about copying the capital”.

“It’s not about London per se, but seven day socialising is clearly a good aspiration, and is an indicator of the commercial strength, balance and resilience of a city. It implies it has more than just a weekend party scene, with a strong commercial sector, city centre residents, and business and leisure tourism for a variety of attractions and events all driving spend and socialising throughout the week.”

Leeds headed the list of cities with a 19.6% net increase in ‘mid-week’ pub, restaurant and bar spend over the last four years, with York second on 17.9%, followed by Manchester in the third spot showing 13.5% growth. Close behind was Edinburgh on 13.4% and Birmingham on 13.2%.

Albeit with an already well established mid-week dining scene, London trailed in at 11 out of the 13 cities included in the study on 7%.

The data for all of the cities ranked is based on EPOS data from CGA’s ‘Trading Index’ cohort of thousands of leading outlets “meaning the data represents true like-for-like sales, and is not skewed by the volume of new launches and openings”, aded Hetherington.

“If anything the data hints at an even stronger underlying shift towards ‘seven day socialising’ in provincial cities, as existing venues have seen this clear Monday to Thursday uplift despite the deluge of new restaurants and bars opening in the meantime.”

The news comes at the same time as research showing overall trading in Britain's pub, restaurant and bar sector fell 3.3% in February as the developing coronavirus (Civid-19) crisis and the severe floods took their toll on eating and drinking out.