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August Sees Growth But Mixed Weather Dampens Trading

Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups overcame some dismal summer weather to record like-for-like sales growth of 5.3% in August 2023, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows.

The Tracker—produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with and the Coffer Group and RSM UK—has now been in year-on-year growth for 11 months in a row. However, August’s figure marks a drop from 7.8% in July. Growth in the Tracker is at its lowest point since March and has dipped slightly below the UK’s rate of inflation.

Widespread cool weather kept many consumers indoors and made August a good month for the restaurant sector, where like-for-like sales finished 8.6% ahead of August 2022. With beer gardens and terraces emptier than usual, pubs recorded 4.9% growth. Bars continue to be the worst performing of the three segments in the Tracker, with sales down by 7.5% year-on-year.

For the 16th month in a row, London outpaced the rest of the UK for sales growth. Managed groups’ like-for-like sales within the M25 were 7.1% ahead in August, compared to 4.9% beyond the M25.

Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “Against a backdrop of grey skies and cool temperatures, 5.3% growth represents a decent August for managed groups. However, persistent high inflation and the Tracker’s downward trajectory means year-on-year sales are marginally down in real terms. There are signs that consumer confidence may pick up as we move towards the crucial Christmas trading period, but high costs are going to make trading conditions difficult in hospitality for some time to come.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: “Despite ongoing disruption to train services that continued to impact London’s commuters, managed restaurant groups within the M25 enjoyed a stellar month with like-for-like sales up a lofty 10% in August. With inflation levels heading in the right direction, interest rates likely to have peaked and an extended period of hot weather to start September, consumers should feel buoyed to get together in local pubs to cheer on the home nations as they begin their challenge for the Rugby World Cup.