Coronavirus

Hospitality sees ‘steady improvement’ as more sites reopen

Managed pub, bar and restaurant groups are beginning to see a “steady improvement” in sales, despite trading remaining “well below” pre-Covid norms, the CGA has revealed.  

According to its latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the week beginning 20 July saw collective like-for-like sales down by 28.5% against the year prior. 

However, this was an improved performance against the 31.6% decline witnessed the week before, as well as the 39.8% decline recorded in the first week after lockdown was lifted in England.

Total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants were up 36.8% on the previous week, which was in part boosted by Scottish sites reopening. To date, around 68% of group-operated sites are 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, however, with only 29% of sites open for business, against the 24% recorded in the previous week. 

Group-run restaurants that were open saw like-for-likes down by 22.4%, compared to a decline of 26.7% in the first week of trading. 

Meanwhile, pub groups have been “more ambitious” in their reopening strategies, with 83% of sites open during the week compared to 74% the week prior. 

Trading pubs saw recorded collective sales down by 29% against the previous year, compared to the decline of 32.4% seen the week before.

In addition, bars are “having a tougher time” than both pubs and restaurants, with sales down by 45.7%, compared to the 41.3% decline the week prior. The percentage of group-run bars open increased from 44% to 51% from the week before, however.

Karl Chessell, director of CGA, said: “Trading at just over 70% of pre-Covid norms is an improvement on the week before for those businesses operating, but it’s more steady than sensational. Operators are still taking it cautiously as demand edges up, and that’s been particularly true among restaurant chains.

“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.”

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