Pub and bar operators are "cautiously optimistic" for 2012 after they saw a year-on-year trading boost, according to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).
A survey by the association showed that more than half of operators (53%) saw like-for-like food and drink sales across their business rise 10% or more in the three weeks from 11 December. Overall, 95% of respondents said trade was up year-on-year over the three-week festive period.
However, many operators also pointed out that the increased sales were compared to the same period in 2010, when snowy weather wiped out trade for many.
Meanwhile, a shopping list of priorities for 2012 revealed three key areas: pushing for a cut in VAT for hospitality businesses; continuing to ensure the Licensing Act is fair and appropriate and tackles the way the off-trade sells alcohol; and promoting a more positive image of the industry.
"The ALMR will continue to lead the charge in fighting for the industry and promoting the hugely positive economic and cultural impact that pubs and bars have on the UK."
Looking ahead to 2012, high profile events, such as the Olympics, the European Football Championships and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations have all added to a sense of cautious optimisim.
One operator commented: "Despite all the doom and gloom, I remain positive about the coming year. I really believe that the operators who know what they are doing will benefit from the feel good factor generated by the Olympic Games."
Another operator said: "A bumpy ride, but there is plenty of opportunity for good operators."
By Neil Gerrard
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