Managed pub, restaurant and bars saw total July sales down 50.4% against the year before, according to the latest data from CGA’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
While the overall market reported trading that was “well below” July 2019 levels, the London market “struggled” the most, with London trading down 58.3% in July, while outside the M25 trading was down by 48.5%.
Pub groups collectively saw total sales down 44.7% over the month, while restaurant sales were down by 59.8% and bar sales down by 63.3%.
Karl Chessell, director of CGA, said: “The figures are a reflection of the fact that reopening of sites has been gradual, and not all by any means are back in business, plus those that are open are in general trading at well below normal levels.
“They also paint a mixed picture, with pubs tending to open up more strongly than restaurants, and London which was hit earliest still struggling to gain traction.”
The latest data showed that 76% of the group-owned sites that were trading in February were open again by the end of July.
While 94% of managed pubs had reopened, however, just 62% of bars and only 36% of group-operated restaurants were trading again.
Chessell said: “Even before lockdown the casual dining boom had stalled and a number of groups were closing sites and restructuring.
“The Covid crisis looks to have accelerated that trend, and it is unclear how many of those group-owned restaurants will eventually reopen, certainly under current ownership.”
In addition, drink sales performed slightly better than food in managed pubs, with sales down 41% and 48%, respectively.
Chessell added: “That may be about people wanting to get out of the house for a pint or social glass of wine in those early weeks after reopening. So it will be interesting to see the impact of the VAT cut on food and the Eat Out To Help Out initiative on not just food sales in pubs but whether it will give restaurants more impetus to reopen.”
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Despite the fanfare over the July 4 reopening date for hospitality, in reality trade is recovering slowly.
“The restaurant sector, already under severe pressure pre-Covid has been decimated by the lockdown. The pub sector has proven to be more resilient as expected and is now bouncing back strongly in many areas.
“The August numbers will be helped by more people returning to work, Eat Out to Help Out, and also habits starting to return to usual and so we will see a marked increase in certain areas. Central London, however, still lags the rest of the country.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Business interruption support from Government has been critical in saving the UK eating and drinking out sector.
“Nevertheless, July’s results lay bare the challenges that remain for operators. The return of consumer confidence is essential but this could take months.”