Curfews put UK pub, bar and restaurant recovery ‘into reverse’

New restrictions on UK pubs, bars and restaurants have put recovery “into reverse”’, new data from the managed pub and restaurant sector has shown.

Bartender serves a fresh beer in a pub in the pandemic days, wearing protective face mask.

Sales in the last full week of September were down 8.2% overall on the previous week, the latest data from CGA’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker showed, with drinks-led pubs showing a sharp 15.3% decline compared to food-led pubs (11%) and bars falling 13.8%.  This reflected the immediate effect of new restrictions on the hospitality sector, including a 10pm curfew, table service only, the new ‘rule of six’ and local lockdowns, which were introduced by the government on xxx.

There was more stability from restaurant groups who saw week-on-week sales dip only 1.9%, while like-for-likes were 14.3% down on the same week last year, stronger than the overall sector, which saw sales down 22.8% on the same week last year overall. Food led pubs also fared better, with like-for-like sales down 19.3%, and week-on-week trading down 11%.This compared to drinks-led pubs falling 28.6%, and bars businesses seeing like-for-likes down 47.6% for the week beginning September 21.

Previously, the overall figures had showed a tentative uptick, with a strong August for manager pub, bar and restaurant groups almost level with August 2019.

Karl Chessell, director for food and retail at CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, noted that sales had started to slip back in early September after the end of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out initiative, but had started to level off before the introduction of the new restrictions.

“Rising consumer confidence and government support gave managed groups a major lift in August, but the curfew and other restrictions are a severe setback to progress, and these numbers highlight the difficulties facing groups this autumn. However, operators have proved agile and innovative in their responses to restrictions ever since lockdown, and we will see how they adapt to this new round of challenges,” he said.

According to the tracker, around 88% of sites are now operational – although restaurants lag behind pubs and bars, at only around 71% back to trading, compared to 96% of pubs and 97% of pub restaurants.

“Restaurants have been slower to return since lockdown than pubs, and many sites will not reopen at all,” Chessell warned, although he added that: “But their week-on-week sales growth suggests they might be better placed to sustain sales through the period of curfew than drink-led businesses, especially if they can encourage people to eat out earlier in the day.”

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