Like-for-like sales among some of the UK's leading pubs and restaurant groups climbed 10.7% in January, offering some relief to operators after a tough December.
Total sales, including the effect of new openings, were up 11.4%, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker - produced on a monthly basis by Peach Factory in partnership with KPMG, UBS and the Coffer Group.
The tracker monitors sales performance across 18 major pub and restaurant operators, including Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread, Pizza Hut, Punch, Gondola and Tragus.
December like-for-like sales had been down by 4.2% on 2009 because of the snow.
Peach Factory's Peter Martin said: "The positive news this past month will be tempered by the fact that January last year was itself badly affected by snow, with like-for-like sales then down 5% on 2009. However, the double-digit recovery this year more than compensates for that and will encourage operators into hoping that this performance may be more than just a readjustment."
"January is traditionally a slow trading period, and month-on-month sales were down 28.5% on December," added Martin. "However, we are comparing the four trading weeks of January with the five of December, so it is actually not a bad result at all."
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, part of the Coffer Group, said: "These strong January numbers are against weak comparables in January 2010. However, the sentiment among pub and restaurant operators is generally pretty robust after a better than expected start to the year for many. Many operators went into 2011 very cautiously and see some signs for optimism through the dark clouds."
Richard Hathaway, head of travel, leisure and tourism at KPMG, added: "As January is traditionally a slow trading month for the sector and December was overshadowed by adverse weather, the 10.7% increase in like-for-like sales is a warm welcome for the pubs and restaurant sector. Total sales, including the effect of new openings, were up 11.4%, indicating a steady recovery ahead of Valentine's Day which is expected to boost sales for premium outlets and chains alike for February."
By Neil Gerrard
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