The British public is continuing to go out to eat and drink, despite growing concerns about a weakening of consumer confidence, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show.
Managed pub and restaurant groups reported collective like-for-like sales up 0.6% in June against the same month last year. They come after a 0.4% decline in May.
“Fears of consumers cutting back on spending so far appear premature, at least when it comes to going to the pub or restaurant,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
The Coffer Peach figures, collected from 36 companies across the country, show that pub and bar groups saw collective like-for-likes sales up 1.1% on June 2016, with casual dining restaurant chains marginally down 0.2%.
“The good weather in June will have helped pubs rather than restaurants, but a positive return across the market, even if modest, is good news,” added Martin. “We essentially have a flat market, which considering the uncertainty in the wider economy and the increasing cost pressures that the out-of-home market is experiencing, will be welcomed by operators.”
Overall, London had the best of the trading, with like-for-likes up 1.2%, against a 0.4% rise outside of the M25. London pubs had a particularly good month with like-for-likes up 2.4%.
“We know from our CGA business confidence survey that in the light of spiralling raw material costs, especially food, over 80% of pub and restaurant operators have already pushed through at least some price increases on food and drink this year. Although that hasn’t boosted sales in any significant way, neither has it depressed them or significantly deterred customers, it seems,” Martin added.
Total sales growth in June among the Tracker cohort was 3.7%, reflecting the continuing if more subdued effect of new openings over the year. The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.4% ahead for the 12 months to the end of June.
Trevor Watson, Executive Director, Valuations of Davis Coffer Lyons, said, 'undoubtedly the favourable weather will have improved wet led trade in particular. The impact of terrorist attacks on London wet led venues appears to have been relatively modest compared with previous incidents. DCL is experiencing high levels of activity with large numbers of both buyers and sellers for all forms of licensed property at present with a perceived change in market sentiment approaching.'
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added, “The pub sector has benefitted from June’s spectacular hot spell, particularly those operators with river based pubs and large gardens. Despite the additional cost pressures and general economic uncertainty, the resilience of this month’s results with a return to positive like-for-like sales is encouraging. Operators who offer the consumer an affordable experience will continue to thrive and prosper in the current environment.
The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 36 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.