Like-for-like sales across Britain’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups were up by just 0.2% on last year as the colder weather brought a harsher climate for trade.
Pubs and bars did better than restaurants in the tracker, which looks at the sales of 49 leading companies, but the greatest outlier was London compared to the rest of the country.
In the capital like for likes grew by a healthy 2.5% – whereas areas outside the capital suffered an overall decline of 0.5%.
Restaurant chains were up in London by 0.9% while pubs and bars were up by 3.6%. Outside the capital restaurant like for likes dropped by 0.7%, while the decline in pubs and bars was 0.4%.
Over the summer months pubs and bars often propped up the restaurant sector in the rankings due to the wet offering boost provided by a long hot summer and the World Cup.
Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, said: ““People are still going out to eat and drink, but there is little or no growth in the market – and stronger London trading is making up for poorer sales outside the M25.
“Restaurants saw volume sales, measured by covers, down 1.4% for the month – which is worrying, although spend has remained essentially static.
“But the really big problem for the sector, and restaurant brands in particular, is continuing fierce competition, added to the burden of increasing business costs that are squeezing both margins and profits.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Against a backdrop of reduced spending on the high street, these figures show that consumers continue to favour the eating and drinking out sector when allocating household budgets.
“Wet sales have fuelled the growth for pubs, while casual dining operators continue to feel the pressure. Despite concerns that younger generations are avoiding alcohol in favour of wellness, drinks sales were up 1.4% against a fall of 0.5% for food sales, driving this month’s better performance.”