Hot weather in May helped boost trade in Britain’s pubs, but hit restaurant sales, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Overall, the country’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales up 1.4% on May last year.
While managed pubs saw collective like-for-likes jump 3.5% for the month, with drink-led outlets doing best, casual dining brands saw like-for-like sales drop 2.1% against the same period last year.
“It’s a familiar story. When the sun shines people head for the pub, or more precisely the pub garden. In contrast, restaurants do better when it’s dull and damp. Weather remains the biggest factor when it comes to sales in the out-of-home market. It’s the way it is,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
Regionally London did marginally better than the rest of the country with like-for-like sales up 1.6% against 1.4% for outside the M25, with the difference between pubs and restaurants mirroring the national picture.
“The effect of the Royal Wedding on trade is hard to judge, but if anything, it may have depressed sales with many people staying home to watch on the TV,” said Martin.
“The good news is that overall the sector saw an uplift in trading in May, which contrasts with the 1.2% fall in April. The public continues to go out to eat and drink, and confidence among operators is also returning, if not yet to pre-Brexit levels,” he added.
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure added: “It’s always easy to blame the weather. But it was a long wait until May when the pub sector got the benefits of some sunshine. Better weather and a World Cup with a record 32 teams should see very strong trading for many pub businesses over the coming period. Restaurants and food led pubs may have a tougher summer to add to the pressures they are under. In the longer term, we see competition for casual dining chains become little less intense as poorer performing units are closed.”
Martin added: “The latest CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey in May showed that 75% of company leaders are now optimistic about the prospects for their own businesses, with 47% upbeat about the market as a whole — both 11 percentage points higher than at the time of the last confidence survey in February.”