Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow just 0.2% in October, according to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 0.7% for the 12 months to the end of October. The figure was virtually the same as at the end of the last three months, showing that the eating and drinking out market remained flat at best.
Pubs and bars did better than casual dining chains, up 0.6% on a like-for-like basis while restaurants across the country saw a 0.3% decline.
CGA said London trading made up for poorer sales outside of the M25 with like-for-like sales at pubs and bars up 3.6% in the capital, but declining by 0.4% elsewhere. Restaurant chains saw like-for-like sales increase by 0.9% compared with a 0.4% drop in the rest of the country.
Regionally, London saw like-for-likes grow a relatively healthy 2.5%, against a 0.5% like-for-like sales fall outside the capital. Pub and bar groups were the top performers both nationally and in London.
Total sales, which include the effect of new openings since this time last year, were up by 2.6% on October 2017.
Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “Restaurants saw volume sales, measured by covers, down 1.4% for the month – which is worrying, although spend has remained essentially static.
“But the really big problem for the sector, and restaurant brands in particular, is continuing fierce competition, added to the burden of increasing business costs that are squeezing both margins and profits.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Against a backdrop of reduced spending on the high street, these figures show that consumers continue to favour the eating and drinking out sector when allocating household budgets. Wet sales have fuelled the growth for pubs, while casual dining operators continue to feel the pressure.
“Despite concerns that younger generations are avoiding alcohol in favour of wellness, drinks sales were up 1.4% against a fall of 0.5% for food sales, driving this month’s better performance.”