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Pubs, restaurants and bars grow sales in February but battle soaring costs

Published:  21 March, 2023

February sales at Britain’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups were 3.9% ahead of last year on a like-for-like basis, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker has revealed.

However, this figure is substantially down from 10.1% in January and is well below the current rate of inflation in the UK.

Of the tracker’s three market segments, pubs performed the best with like-for-like sales 6.9% ahead of February 2022. Meanwhile, restaurants achieved a modest growth of 1.9% but bars continued to struggle, with sales down 10.1%.

Continuing the pattern of recent months, sales in London comfortably outpaced the rest of the country in February. The tracker showed sales within the M25 were 7.6% ahead year-on-year, well over twice the growth of 3.1% outside the M25.

Karl Chessell, director of hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “Hospitality trading is now consistently ahead year-on-year, and consumers’ appetite for pubs, in particular, remains undimmed. That demand allows the sector to be optimistic when planning for the long term. 

“However, the real issue the sector faces is the cost of doing business right now. It was therefore disappointing to hear about the lack of energy support in the budget. This risks the future of many businesses to survive this period of cost pressure and benefit from the positive demand that exists.”

Mark Sheehan, MD at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “Hospitality sales continue to grow but still lag inflation. London continues to rebound strongly. There is strong demand for the best sites in London and we expect this to continue. We expect to see sales growth mainly on the back of price rises but what operators need to see across the board is increased volume, which is difficult to see until wage rises outstrip inflation.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: “It’s positive news to see another month of year-on-year growth for the UK hospitality sector. Although there were no meaningful sector-specific reliefs in last week’s Budget, news that the UK is likely to avoid a technical recession alongside a significant fall in inflation later this year should provide a boost to consumer confidence. Operators will be desperate for this mood swing to translate into an uplift in spending across the UK’s pubs and restaurants over the coming months as they continue to grapple with rampant food inflation and rocketing energy bills.”

CGA collected sales figures directly from 75 leading companies for the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.