Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw trading flat-line in May, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Collective like-for-like sales growth across the market was zero, compared with the same period last year.
Regionally, London saw like-for-like sales down 0.6%, while outside the M25 same-site sales were up a marginal 0.2%. Restaurant chains performed better than pubs and bars, and more strongly than in recent months, with like-for likes up 3.1%, against May last year. In comparison, pub and bar groups saw collective like-for-likes fall 1.7%, with drink sales down 2.4% and food down 1.6%.
Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “The public still went out to eat and drink, but only at the same level as last May. While this could initially seem like bad news for the market, especially after the positive growth seen in March and April, we have to remember that May 2018 benefitted from consistently good weather and the royal wedding, both boosting performance. Maintaining sales against this positive backdrop, and throughout what is widely acknowledged as tougher trading conditions, is no mean feat.”
Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, added: “The pattern of spending in restaurants and bars reflects weather variations. At Davis Coffer Lyons, we are experiencing improved activity in terms of site finding, with many successful operators taking the view that now is a good time to acquire high quality locations without needing to pay for excessive premiums.”
Paul Newman, partner and head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Given the backdrop of continuing political and economic uncertainty, growth rates have remained remarkably resilient throughout May. Operators have experienced much volatility in recent trading with performance fluctuating wildly throughout April, with a late Easter weekend, shifting bank holidays and some extremes of weather to navigate.
“The overall market remains flat and those who remain open for business will hope to begin to benefit from recent restaurant closures in the months ahead.”
Total sales across the 52 companies in the tracker, which includes the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 2.4% compared to last May.
Longer term underlying like-for-like growth for the tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 1.7% for the 12 months to the end of May.