Contract catering sales saw a modest recovery in the last quarter of 2021, according to CGA, but Covid-19 concerns continue to hold them well below pre-pandemic levels.
The latest edition of CGA's Contract Caterer Tracker showed sales from October to December 2021 were up by 37% on the same three months in 2020, a period when many venues served by caterers faced heavy restrictions.
However, the Tracker also indicated that sales were 26% below the fourth quarter of 2019, when businesses were trading as normal, though this marked an improvement on a shortfall of 36% in the third quarter of 2021.
The number of outlets open in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 13% lower than in the last three months of 2019.
Karl Chessell, CGA's director – hospitality operators and food, said: "It has been a hugely challenging two years for contract caterers, and with sales still well below pre-Covid-19 norms the sector is clearly going to take a long time to recover. The phasing out of restrictions should pull more people back to workplaces and the many other spaces served by caterers as 2022 goes on. However, with some businesses severely weakened by the effects of Covid-19, supply and staffing problems continuing, and inflation hitting both caterers' costs and people's spending, more challenges lie ahead."