Like-for-like sales in managed pub and restaurants grew by 1.1% in November against the same month a year ago, with London providing the biggest increase.
That's according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which recorded a 3.5% increase in like-for-like sales in the capital as compared to the previous November when sales were hit by public nervousness in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.
The tracker examines the sales figures from 34 businesses including PizzaExpress, TGI Fridays, and Wagamama.
"London saw like-for-likes fall 1.5% last November and that had a knock-on effect on national figures which were down 0.2% on 2014," said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
"So although this November's overall trading increase is to be welcomed, it has to be put in context. Outside of London, groups recorded collective like-for-likes up just 0.3%, which might be a more accurate reflection of the essentially flat nature of the eating and drinking out market post Brexit vote," he added.
Growth among branded restaurant chains was just 0.2% nationally on November last year, although pubs had a better time with collective like-for-likes up 1.7% and drink-led pubs and bars performing better than food-led.
"These latest numbers come on the back of three consecutive months of sales growth in the sector in July, August and September following the EU-referendum, but a 1.0% decline in October, so operators need to remain cautious with plenty of volatility, uncertainty and competition ahead," Martin added.
"Confidence in the market is slowly returning after the Brexit vote, although as our latest CGA poll of senior executives shows, longer term optimism for the coming 12 months, at 36%, is lower than confidence for the immediate six months ahead, at 50%," he said.
Total sales growth in November, reflecting the impact of new openings, was 4.1%.
The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 0.7% ahead for the 12 months to the end of November, essentially in-line with previous months.
"Trading for eating and drinking out operators in November was up on a soft period the previous year. Many operators are cautiously optimistic about Christmas but more nervous about 2017. With pressure on many costs including wages, food and other commodity costs as well as rent and rates increases, operators need stronger growth to stand still. 2017 could be a year that many simply batten down the hatches, but there are still some excellent schemes and opportunities for expanding F&B concepts in the right locations," said Mark Sheehan, managing director, at Coffer Corporate Leisure.
"Generally positive results for November from across the UK, albeit compared to a relative low base month, will have provided hard-pressed operators with some respite in the run up to the all-important festive trading season. With consumer confidence predicted to falter going into the New Year, it will be interesting to see which operators break ranks to hike menu prices as the sector begins to see the full impact of the much heralded cost headwinds," added Adam Spencer, associate director at RSM Corporate Finance LLP.