Rising consumer confidence and staycations saw sales at Britain's managed pub, restaurant and bar groups rise above pre-pandemic levels in August.
The latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows total sales were 5% ahead of August 2019, the first month of year-on-year growth since hospitality reopened in April. Total sales were also 20% up on August 2020, when the majority of venues were open after lockdown and the ‘Eat Out to Help Out' scheme was running.
Managed restaurant groups outperformed the market for the fourth month in a row, with total sales up 7% on August 2019. Pubs recorded 3% growth, while bars saw sales surge 21%.
The wider staycation trend during school holidays helped sales outside London rise 9% compared to August 2019, while the lack of office workers and tourists in the capital contributed to a 7% drop in sales compared to two years ago.
However, rolling 12-month sales across managed hospitality groups were down 15% on the year to August 2020, though this period included the UK's first national lockdown.
"While trading conditions remain some way off pre-Covid norms, August will hopefully act as a springboard for a strong final four months of 2021 for the sector," said Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA.
David Coffer, chairman at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: "August figures show welcome progress in public support. However, we should be wary of the major challenges which lay ahead; shortage of food and drink and labour, the end of furlough and the statutory demands for repayments of loans, rates, VAT and now higher NIC.
"There is also the threat of further lockdowns and Covid controls with the spectre of the end of the rental moratorium. The next few months will prove the depth of these challenges, but the undated ability of the sector to cope as ever."
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