BusinessPubs and BarsRestaurants

Strong festive trading boosts eating and drinking-out market

Britain’s managed pub and restaurant companies escaped recent high street woes over the six-week festive period with collective like-for-like sales up 4.1% on 2017, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Both pub and restaurant operators saw positive sales growth over the Christmas and new year period, with pubs enjoying the biggest uplift with collective like-for-likes ahead 5.1% against a 2.4% increase for restaurants. Conversely, the retail sector confirmed it had seen its worst Christmas performance in a decade, with zero sales growth.

London also benefited more than the rest of Britain, with like-for-likes over the six weeks to January 6 up 5% compared to 3.8% outside the M25. Drink sales were the major driver of growth in pubs over the period, up 6.4% on last year compared to a 3.6% rise in food sales, the Tracker figures showed.

Underlying annual like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 1% for the 12 months up to the end of the year, up from 0.7% at the end of November.

Total sales over the six week festive period, which include the effect of new openings since this time last year across the 49 companies in the seasonal Tracker cohort, were ahead 7.1% compared to same period in 2017.

Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, said: “What these Tracker figures suggest is that consumers are being more selective about where they spend their money, and are looking for memorable experiences – like going out for a meal or drink with family or friends over Christmas – rather than just buying ‘things’.”

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The fact is the eating and drinking-out sectors had an excellent trading period in their busiest time of the year. Consumers escaped the political turmoil and headed for pubs and restaurants to escape the tedium. Pre booked sales in particular were strong and the months ahead are going to be tough but at this crucial time trading was robust.”

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