Pub and restaurant groups in the UK have seen trading fall flat in May, with collective like-for-like sales growth at zero compared with the same month last year.

Figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker saw like-for-like sales in London down 0.6% for the month with the rest of the country seeing a 0.2% increase. Restaurant chains were up 3.1%, while pubs and bars collectively were down by 1.7%.

Pubs and bars saw their collective like-for-like sales decrease in both food and drink; drinks sales fell by 2.4% and food sales fell by 1.6% compared with the same month in 2018.

Director of foodservice market research company CGA Karl Chessell said: “The public still went out to eat and drink, but only at the same level as last May. While this could initially seem like bad news for the market, especially after the positive growth seen in March and April, we have to remember that May 2018 benefitted from consistently good weather and the royal wedding, both boosting performance. Maintaining sales against this positive backdrop and throughout what is widely acknowledged as tougher trading conditions is no mean feat.”

Valuations executive director at leisure property specialist Davis Coffer Lyons Trevor Watson said: “The pattern of spending in restaurants and bars reflects weather variations. At Davis Coffer Lyons, we are experiencing improved activity in terms of site finding, with many successful operators taking the view that now is a good time to acquire high-quality locations without needing to pay for excessive premiums.”

Financial services consultancy RSM partner and head of leisure and hospitality Paul Newman said: “Given the backdrop of continuing political and economic uncertainty, growth rates have remained remarkably resilient throughout May. Operators have experienced much volatility in recent trading with performance fluctuating wildly throughout April, with a late Easter weekend, shifting bank holidays and some extremes of weather to navigate. The overall market remains flat and those who remain open for business will hope to begin to benefit from recent restaurant closures in the months ahead.”

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