UK pubs are still trading strongly while restaurants are seeing sales fall, according to a report from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
February tracker figures show managed pub groups saw a 1.4% increase in collective like-for-like sales this February while restaurant groups recorded a 1.7% decline in like-for-like sales compared to February last year.
Drink-led pubs were the strongest performers with London being the biggest performer across the country. Pub sales were up by 3% in London compared to a 2.2% sales decline for restaurants. Across the rest of the country, pub like-for-like sales were up 0.9% and restaurants were down 1.2%.
The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and analyses performance data from 51 operating groups. It is produced by business insight consultancy CGA, in partnership with leisure property specialist Coffer Group and financial consultancy RSM.
CGA director Karl Chessell said: “The mini heatwave towards the end of the month certainly boosted pub trading, and also helped restaurant sales, as people enjoyed the unseasonal sunshine, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to move the whole market much. The branded restaurant sector is still suffering from declining sales, and despite a better end to the month, early February was generally poor for restaurants.
“While people will remember the sun, it was cold at the start of the month and school half-term holidays appear to have given no more of a boost to sales than they did last year.”
Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan said: “There is no quick fix for the restaurant sector. Oversupply in some areas will mean that we may continue to see negative numbers for the foreseeable future, especially within the M25 where competition is fiercest.”
RSM partner head of leisure and hospitality Paul Newman said: “Whilst there is continued cause for optimism amongst Britain’s managed pubs, the expected pick up for casual dining resulting from the closure of under-performing sites compared to a year ago failed to materialise.
“The fact that sales are continuing to fall is a huge challenge for the eating out sector and underlines the fierce competition for discretionary spend on the high street, as consumers tighten their purse strings in preparation for Brexit.”
From the 51 companies surveyed, total sales were up 2.7% compared with last year, with underlying like-for-like growth running at 0.9% for the whole year.