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Wet Weather Softens Hospitality Growth In October

Britain’s leading hospitality groups saw year-on-year growth slow to 3.2% in October amid widespread poor weather, the new CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals.

It is a 13th consecutive month of like-for-like growth for managed restaurants, pubs and bars. However, it represents a slowdown from a 5.9% rise in September, when brighter weather encouraged consumers out to eat and drink. By contrast, Storm Babet and the early stages of Storm Ciarán kept some diners and drinkers at home for periods in October.

The Tracker, which is produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK, shows a brighter month for pubs, with fans watching the Rugby World Cup helping to lift sales 5.0% above October 2022. Managed restaurants had a softer month with growth of only 2.7%, while the bar segment endured another difficult month, with sales down by 7.8%.

For the 18th month in a row, groups achieved better growth in London than the rest of the country, the Tracker shows. Like-for-like sales within the M25 rose 4.8%, compared to 2.7% elsewhere.

Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “Thirteen successive months of year-on-year growth amid a cost of living crisis is encouraging, but there is no escaping the fact that rises are being driven by price rises and remain below inflation. The weather made for challenging trading conditions in many parts of the country, offsetting boosts from occasions like the Rugby World Cup and Halloween. Consumer demand for hospitality remains high, but venues will have to be at the top of their game to achieve real-terms growth over the crucial run-in to Christmas.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: “With poor weather in October to blame for much of the slowdown in eating and drinking-out growth, the sector will be desperate to see an end to the wet weather that has continued to hamper sales in the first half of November. The lead up to Christmas is a key trading period for hospitality but economic headwinds are dampening festive plans.

Cuts to corporate funded Christmas parties combined with consumers tightening purse strings, the continued threat of rail strikes and the looming end to business rates support in March will come together to create considerable financial strain on businesses in the months ahead. The Chancellor needs to step up and use the Autumn Statement to provide renewed support for the hospitality sector which could otherwise see a swath of jobs being lost in the New Year.”