The UK economy flatlined in April, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said there was zero growth in April compared to the 0.4% figure recorded during March. Experts have blamed a negative impact from wet weather, knocking both retail sales and construction output. Services output grew by 0.2% in April 2024, its fourth consecutive monthly growth.

A report in May revealed that Britain’s top hospitality groups saw sales drop 1.7% year-on-year in April 2024 after widespread wet weather.

The CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker revealed its first year-on-year drop in monthly sales since September 2022 and a sharp contrast with March, when groups achieved 5.2% growth thanks to drier weather and an early Easter.

The Tracker revealed the impact of the weather on pubs, where sales were 1.5% down as consumers stayed away from beer gardens and terraces. Restaurants, which sometimes benefit from wetter weather, achieved modest like-for-like growth of 1.2%. Bars were hit hardest, with sales dropping 15.1% below the levels of April 2023. The on-the-go segment was 4.2% down.

Hospitality groups performed better in London than elsewhere, the Tracker shows. April sales inside the M25 were 0.3% ahead of last year, but down by 2.2% beyond the M25.

Speaking in May, Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said:
After eighteen consecutive months of year-on-year growth, the hospitality sector had a challenging April. It’s a reminder of the very close correlation between the weather and sales, and a sign that some consumers have been saving their eating and drinking out for special occasions”

Responding to economic figures released today, Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said:
“The flatlining economy in April underlines just how important hospitality is as a driver of growth.

“When hospitality suffers, as it did in April due to wet weather dampening consumer demand, the economy suffers too.

“It’s clear that hospitality is a bellwether for the nation’s economic performance, which reinforces the need for an incoming government to act swiftly to create the right conditions for the sector to thrive.

“Fixing business rates, reforming the Apprenticeship Levy and reducing employment costs are all crucial measures that will allow hospitality to grow and create places where people want to live, work and invest.”