Easter rainstorms put a dampener on pub sales but restaurants fared better.
That's according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which recorded a rise in like-for-like sales of just 0.2% on Easter 2015.
Pubs suffered worse from the weather with like-for-like trading down 1.6% over the four-day holiday, with drink-led pubs and bars down 2.1%. In contrast, restaurant chains had a better time, with a 4.3% boost in like-for-likes.
"The public presumably chose indoor activities like shopping and the cinema rather than going outside," said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS.
"Overall the market shouldn't be too disappointed, however, considering the severity of the weather and the fact that last year was a bumper Easter, with like-for-likes 5% up on 2014," added Martin.
Total sales for the four-day period among the 30 companies in the Tracker were up 4.2% on the same period last year, thanks to new site openings in the market since 2015.
Mark Sheehan, managing director, Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: "Overall, the industry should not feel too perturbed by the numbers given the mixed weather we experienced and an earlier Easter than last year. Despite this, the outlook for eating and drinking out numbers appears to be much tougher over the coming months than we have seen in 2015, against strong comparables and low confidence from consumers and leisure business owners alike ahead of the referendum. New openings in the restaurant sector especially could mean like for like sales are tough for existing operators."
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: "It appears that those lucky few not stuck in traffic jam chaos over Easter decided to avoid the traditional home-cooked roast and instead made for their local restaurant. For many operators however, the prognosis for the sector is probably one of ‘mild, with clouds on the horizon'. With the NLW commencing on 1 April and food cost inflation again rearing its head, operators will need to see some positive movement in covers or spend per head (or both) in order to maintain margins. A tough ask in such a competitive environment."
CGA Peach collects sales figures directly from 30 leading companies. Participants include Mitchells & Butlers (owner of Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter, All Bar One etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Pizza Express, Spirit Group (Flaming Grill, Fayre & Square), TGI Fridays, Casual Dining Group (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, La Tasca, Las Iguanas), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Yates'), Marston's, Azzurri Restaurants (Zizzi, ASK), Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Prezzo, Novus (Tiger Tiger), Fuller's, Carluccio's, Young's, Living Ventures, Strada, Amber Taverns, Hall & Woodhouse, Intertain (Walkabout), Giraffe, Loungers, Byron, Peach Pub Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Laine Pub Co and Downing LLP (investment partner of Antic London)