Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-sales edge up 0.5% in November compared with the same month last year, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker reveal.
“But the figures show that much of that growth was driven by drinks sales, with eating out in pubs as well as restaurants under pressure,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Coffer Peach Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
Restaurant groups saw like-for-like sales slip 0.1%, and while managed pubs recorded overall like-for-like growth of 0.7%, that included an increase in drinks sales of 1.1%. Like-for-like food sales in pubs were down 0.2% in November.
“Also, school half-term holidays at the start of the month produced a healthy first week of trading, and without that we would have been looking at negative sales across the board for the month,” added Chessell.
Paul Newman, Head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM said, “It was perhaps unsurprising that a wet and windy November saw diners sheltering at home rather than braving the elements. The restaurant sector saw volume sales down 2.1% over the month and operators will be relieved that the fall in number of covers was largely offset by higher spend per head by those who did dine out. With drinks led businesses seeing like-for-like sales growth, the signs are positive that the festive trading season will deliver some welcome news for the sector.”
“The data suggests a lacklustre market in the run-up to the General Election and Christmas,” said Trevor Watson, executive director, Valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons.
“In London, operators are hoping and expecting there to be no significant impact on leisure spend as a result of the latest terror incident in the capital. Operators everywhere are hoping that the general election will revive consumer confidence generally in the final run-up to Christmas the New Year festivities. This could lead to much needed favourable December figures,” he continued.
Total sales across the 58 companies in the Tracker, which include the effect of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead 3.0% compared to last November.
Underlying like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small operators, was running at 1.6% for the 12 months to the end of November, which is just below the 1.7% registered at the end of October.