Pubs continued to prove resilient to industry pressures in February achieving a 1.3% increase in like-for-like sales compared to a 1.5% decline seen in restaurants.
However, the Coffer Peach Business Tracker has shown that people continued to dine out in February despite the cold weather and negative media coverage around high-profile casual dining brands closing sites.
Looking at the industry as a whole, London fared better than other areas with like-for-likes up 0.8% compared to flat trading across the rest of the country.
Peter Martin, vice president of business insight consultancy CGA, said: “Most of the effects of the major snow disruption will show up in the March data, but even so, to come out effectively even for February as a whole shows the resilience of both the sector and consumers.
“What’s not clear is how the bad publicity around certain high-profile restaurant brands closing sites has affected the market or individual choices.”
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “Contrary to media reports the eating and drinking out market remains stable, as these figures show. The restaurant sector has had terrible press over the past few weeks but in reality, consumers are still eating out. We also continue to see pub operators out performing restaurants.”
CGA’s latest Business Leaders survey has showed that senior executives are expecting more business failures this year and are pulling back on expansion plans, amid difficult trading conditions.
Martin added: “This is already reflected in the Coffer Peach numbers. New sites are still being opened but casual dining chains in the cohort are now rolling out at a rate below that of the pub companies. Over the last 12 months, total sales growth, reflecting new openings as well as closures, was 3.8% for restaurant groups compared to 4.3% for managed pub and bar chains.
“Although the February numbers will bring some comfort to operators, they are still below inflation, and with the extra business costs around property, people and food prices, it remains a challenging trading environment.”