UK pub and restaurant sector confidence hits two-year low

Pub and restaurant operators’ confidence is at a two-year low, a new survey has shown.

A view from behind an typical English pub barpub

Fears over a no-deal Brexit are at the top of the agenda for leaders of Britain’s pub and restaurant group, according to the CGA’s Business Confidence Survey, with fewer than a third of bosses feeling optimistic about the general market. This marks a fall of 9% in the last three months, according to insight consultancy CGA, its lowest level for since November 2017, and the joint-lowest figure since the EU Referendum in June 2016.

The survey, which was carried out among 130 business leaders in the sector, found that operators are less confident in their own businesses. Just 58% of leaders felt optimistic about their firm’s prospects in the next 12 months – the lowest point since November 2017.

Concerns remain not only around the short-term uncertainty of Brexit – cited by 44% of leaders as a primary concern, but also the longer term consequences of leaving the EU, cited by 52%.

Nearly three quarters of business leaders said they were concerned over rising food costs, as well as labour costs (72%), and Brexit’s overall impact on footfall (67%).

CGA group chief executive Phil Tate said the long-term consequences of Brexit were front of mind in the industry at the moment, and leaders didn’t regard it as simply a short-term problem.

“There is an urgent need for clarity around Brexit’s impact in areas like imports and the labour market, and this sector deserves support that reflects its enormous contribution to the UK’s economy,” he said.

Ben Hood, CEO of hospitality technology specialist  Fourth, who collaborated with CGA on the survey, said the industry was known for its positivity, energy and “can-do-will-do culture”, so the survey is very telling.

“Brexit, and the prevailing uncertainty, is clearly and understandably weighing on the sector. Against the spectre of a no-deal exit, hospitality operators desperately need certainty over the future shape of supply, trading and immigration arrangements with the EU,” he said. “With consumer confidence starting to tick down as well, these findings should sound the alarm in Westminster that Britain’s resilient, dynamic and world class hospitality sector needs government to deliver clarity and a workable departure that protects our best interests.” 

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