Pub sales up in February, but restaurants decline

Pubs in the UK saw a boost last month as like-for-like sales grew on the back of strong booze sales, but restaurant chains suffered a 1.7% fall from the same time last year.

London pub

According to the monthly stats from Coffer Peach Business Tracker, managed pubs saw strong trading, with like-for-like sales up 1.4% in February, compared to the previous year. Drink-led pubs, particularly in London, performed most strongly, with booze sales up 3.5%.

Pubs in the capital saw like-for-like growth of 3%, compared to 1% of the overall on-premise, while those outside the M25, pub growth saw more muted growth of 0.9%.

However, restaurant groups had a less than positive month, with like-for-like sales down 1.7% across the board as food sales fell 0.9%. In London there was a 2.2% decline, compared to 1.2% outside the M25.

Overall like-for-like on-premise sales growth in London was 1.0% over the month, compared to just 0.1% outside the M25, where the difference in performance was less stark, with pubs’ like-for-likes up 0.9% and restaurants down 1.2%.

Karl Chessell, director of CGAthe business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM said the mini-heatwave at the end of the month helped sales across the board, but did not make up for the cold start to the month.

“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,” he said.

“Even within the managed pub market food sales are under pressure. The trading uplift in February has essentially come from increased drink sales, which were up 3.5%, against a 0.9% fall in food.”

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure argued that there was no “no quick fix” for the restaurant sector, with oversupply in some areas – particularly inside the M25 – unlikely to see a change.  

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