Covid-19 Restrictions Cut Contract Catering Sales By Nearly Half In The First Quarter Of 2021

New Contract Caterer Tracker service from CGA reveals the impact of the pandemic on food and drink businesses serving workplaces, education, leisure and other sectors

Sales in the contract catering sector were nearly halved in the first quarter of 2021, an exclusive new Tracker service from CGA reveals.

The Contract Caterer Tracker shows total sales were down by 45% on the first three months of 2020. The drop in sales is in line with a sharp fall in the number of people using contract-catered venues in businesses, leisure, education and other sectors in 2021.

The number of units open for service in the first quarter of 2021 was down by 18% on 2020. In the private sector alone, first-quarter sales were down by 49% on 2020, due in large part to the closure of offices and other workplaces.

CGA’s Tracker is an important new service for the UK’s contract catering industry, aggregating sales from leading operators to provide quarterly reports with year-on-year analysis. It offers businesses a crucial new benchmarking tool to measure performance across various metrics and market groupings, and participants in the Tracker receive additional analysis in return for their contributions. Any business with an interest in joining the cohort can contact CGA for more details.

“These figures reveal the full impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the UK’s contract catering sector,” says Karl Chessell, CGA’s director of hospitality operators and food, EMEA. “The widespread shift to working from home, the short-notice closure of many education and leisure sites and the wholesale cancellation of events have all been devastating for caterers in early 2021.

“While we can expect to see a gradual reopening of society as the year goes on, it is going to be a long road to recovery for contract caterers. With some consumers likely to continue their work and leisure habits of lockdown, and Brexit-related challenges on food supply and prices still in evidence, it will remain a very tough trading environment. The survival of businesses is at stake, and the sector deserves sustained support from government to protect jobs.”

The Contract Caterer Tracker is the latest addition to CGA’s suite of market measurement services, which includes the Coffer CGA Business Tracker to monitor sales at the UK’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups; and the Hospitality at Home Tracker, which reports data from the fast-growing delivery and takeaway sector.