Managed pub, bar and restaurant groups are still trading well below pre-COVID norms, but are seeing a steady improvement in sales as more sites reopen across the country.
Latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker figures for the week beginning July 20 show that collective like-for-like sales in those sites trading were still 28.5% down on the same week last year. But that was a better performance than the minus 31.6% the week before, and the 39.8% level recorded in the first week after lockdown was lifted in England.
Overall, total sales across the managed pub, bar and restaurant market were up 36.8% on the previous week’s trading, helped in part by Scotland reopening. In all, 68% of group-operated sites were open for eating and drinking inside, up from 60% the week before.
“Trading at just over 70% of pre-COVID norms is an improvement on the week before for those businesses operating, but it’s more steady than sensational. Operators are still taking it cautiously as demand edges up, and that’s been particularly true among restaurant chains,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.
Restaurant groups continue to take a more cautious approach to reopening than pubs, only 29% of sites open for business, compared to 24% in the previous week. Those group-run restaurants that were open saw like-for-likes down 22.4%, compared to 26.7%, down in the first week.
Pub groups, which have generally been more ambitious in their reopening strategies, had 83% of sites open during the week compared to 74% the week before, and pubs that were open recorded collective sales down 29.0% on the same week in 2019, compared to minus 32.4% the week before.
Bars are having a tougher time than both pubs and restaurants, with sales deteriorating. Bars that were open saw sales down 45.7%, compared to 41.3% down the week before. The percentage of group-run bars open increased from 44% to 51% from the week before.
“We are still in the early days of recovery, and the data coming back from companies in the Tracker cohort tells its own story. What will be interesting to see in the next few weeks will be the impact of the cut in VAT, the Eat Out to Help Out campaign and also the holiday season, now that more people are expected to stay in Britain,” added Chessell.