Pubs suffered worse from the weather with like-for-like trading down 1.6% over the four-day holiday, with drink-led pubs and bars down 2.1%. In contrast, restaurant chains had a better time, with a 4.3% boost in like-for-likes.
“The public presumably chose indoor activities like shopping and the cinema rather than going outside,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS.
“Overall the market shouldn’t be too disappointed, however, considering the severity of the weather and the fact that last year was a bumper Easter, with like-for-likes 5% up on 2014,” added Martin.
Total sales for the four-day period among the 30 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 4.2% on the same period last year, reflecting the impact of new site openings in the market since 2015.
Mark Sheehan, managing director, Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Overall, the industry should not feel too perturbed by the numbers given the mixed weather we experienced and an earlier Easter than last year. Despite this, the outlook for eating and drinking out numbers appears to be much tougher over the coming months than we have seen in 2015, against strong comparables and low confidence from consumers and leisure business owners alike ahead of the referendum. New openings in the restaurant sector especially could mean like for like sales are tough for existing operators.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “It appears that those lucky few not stuck in traffic jam chaos over Easter decided to avoid the traditional home cooked roast and instead made for their local restaurant. For many operators however, the prognosis for the sector is probably one of ‘mild, with clouds on the horizon’. With the NLW commencing on 1April and food cost inflation again rearing its head, operators will need to see some positive movement in covers or spend per head (or both) in order to maintain margins. A tough ask in such a competitive environment.”
The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 30 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.