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Takings down 45% for 4 July weekend as managed outlets feel the squeeze

Published:  10 July, 2020

New figures have put a sobering picture on ‘Super Saturday’ and Sunday, with takings for group-operated pub, bar and restaurant outlets down 44.5% compared to the closest 4 July weekend last year.

The figures, from Coffer Peach Business Tracker data via CGA, look at the performance-based trading of a sample of managed outlets such as Prezzo, Bermondsey Pub Company, Bills, Mitchells & Butlers, New World Trading Co, St Austell, Star Pubs & Bars and Gaucho Grill.

It compares the 4 and 5 July 2020 weekend with 6 and 7 July 2019. It does not take into consideration independent restaurants, bars and pubs.

The figures do, however, provide another snapshot of an industry keen, yet encountering challenges, along the path to health and profitability.

According to CGA, many more pubs than restaurants opened in England the first weekend they were fully able, with 42% of managed pubs, bars and pub restaurants opening, compared with just 12% of restaurants.

Across respondents, the tracker found that that just 36% of group-operated sites were open for eating and drinking last weekend – the first time that hospitality businesses were allowed to reopen fully since lockdown.

“Trading at around 55% of pre-Covid norms may seem a disappointing result, and it won’t be profitable for operators, but it is very much in line with what we have seen in other markets,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA.  

“When bars and restaurants began reopening in the US during May, it was only after a couple of weeks that sales reached 54% of pre-Covid levels, according to data from Nielsen CGA, our Chicago-based research business. It is going to take time for the trade to return but this provides a foundation on which to build consumer confidence and adapt and improve operations.”

It’s almost impossible to tell at this point whether the dip in trading is down to reduced capacity in venues as a result of social distancing, or if it is because consumers are still hesitant to head out for food and drink.

Here at Harpers, we have seen mixed anecdotal evidence, with many, such as D&D beverage manager Diana Rollan reporting the majority of sites fully booked to (socially distanced) capacity.

There does appear to be continued hesitancy among consumers, with ONS data released today revealing that 60% of Britons feel uncomfortable about the idea of eating indoors at a restaurant.

“Business has been brisk since England and Northern Ireland’s pubs were finally able to reopen their doors,” said Robert Rawlinson, CEO of the pub and retail technology company Screach, commenting on the ONS figures.

“But it’s clear many still have a mountain to climb when it comes to reassuring people that it’s safe to enjoy their local again. The ONS data confirms the scale of the challenge pubs and restaurants face. Three out of five people still feel uncomfortable, or very uncomfortable, about the idea of eating indoors at a restaurant or pub. That figure rises to two-thirds among those aged over 70.

“While there is greater willingness to eat outdoors, clearly this isn’t a viable option for all venues. And while the support measures announced by the chancellor this week are valuable, the offer of £10 off a meal in August will make little difference if so many people are still so anxious about eating out.

“Pubs and restaurants need to win back customers’ hearts and minds. It’s vital they enforce social distancing rules, and are seen to be doing so.”

All figures from CGA come from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, produced by CGA in association with The Coffer Group and RSM.

In all, 32 companies provided data to the Tracker, with another 17 operators reporting that they had yet to open any sites.