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On-trade groups continue to nudge up sales as more sites reopen

Published:  31 July, 2020

Managed pub, bar and restaurant groups open across England and Scotland are seeing a steady improvement in sales as more sites reopen, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. 

While collective like-for-like sales for the week commencing 20 July [in those sites trading] were still 28.5% down on the same week last year, that was a better performance than the minus 31.6% the week before, and the 39.8% level recorded in the first week after lockdown was lifted in England.

Overall, total sales across the managed pub, bar and restaurant market were up 36.8% on the previous week’s trading, helped in part by Scotland reopening, according to the tracker.

In all, 68% of group-operated sites were open for eating and drinking inside, up from 60% the week before.

Restaurant groups continue to take a more cautious approach to reopening than pubs, with only 29% of sites open for business, compared to 24% in the previous week. Those group-run restaurants that were open saw like-for-likes down 22.4%, compared to 26.7%, down in the first week.

Trading at just over 70% of pre-Covid norms was an improvement on the week before for those businesses operating, but “it’s more steady than sensational”, said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, which produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. 

“Operators are still taking it cautiously as demand edges up, and that’s been particularly true among restaurant chains.” 

Pub groups had 83% of sites open during the week compared to 74% the week before, with pubs that were open recording collective sales down 29% on the same week in 2019, compared to minus 32.4% the week before.

Bars that were open are having a tougher time, with sales down 45.7%, compared to 41.3% down the week before. The percentage of group-run bars open increased from 44% to 51% from the week before.

“We are still in the early days of recovery, and the data coming back from companies in the Tracker cohort tells its own story. What will be interesting to see in the next few weeks will be the impact of the cut in VAT, the Eat Out to Help Out campaign and also the holiday season, now that more people are expected to stay in Britain,” said Chessell.

CGA is now reporting trading progress via the Tracker on a weekly basis as the market continues to recover and more sites reopen, including measuring week-on-week increases. A total of 50 companies provided data to the Tracker.

Earlier this month, CGA research revealed that the Covid-induced emphasis on reservations is hitting the beleaguered on-trade with a wave a ‘no shows’ recorded since the reopening of the industry.