Late Easter does no favours for Britain's eating-out market
Britain's managed pub and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales down 3.8% on 2016's four-day weekend.
This is according to latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker figures, produced by business insight consultancy CGA Peach in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
While managed pubs experienced only a 1% fall in like-for-like sales, restaurant operators in the Tracker cohort suffered a steep 9.1% drop in performance over the extended weekend period, including Good Friday and Easter Monday, compared to last year's holiday weekend.
The weather is blamed to an extent for the comparatively poor performance, with people favouring pubs over restaurants when the sun shines. And a late Easter falling in April, rather than in March as last year, meant some school holidays fell before the bank holiday weekend, meaning some children will have gone back to school on Tuesday, which may have curtailed families going out.
"It was not a good time for eating out, as within the pub figures, food-led businesses were down more than their drink-led competitors, which actually saw a slight increase in trade," said Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach.
"Operators will hope that overall April sales will hold up, even with a disappointing Easter, and that trading will even itself up over the two-month period. We will know in a few weeks.
"However, there will be nervousness about consumer sentiment with cost pressures hitting businesses and customers alike. We expect overall trading to remain fairly flat for the foreseeable future."
Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: "Easter statistics are prone to variations around weather and time of year; nevertheless, these figures indicate that the UK consumer is starting to take a more cautious approach towards eating and drinking away from the home. The pub sector is now seeing the benefit of being leaner than it has been for some years, which contrasts with the restaurant sector."
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: "These latest figures highlight the tougher consumer environment for the eating and drinking out sector. Since June we've seen a significant drop in consumer confidence and this year's Easter spending will have been impacted by the squeeze on household budgets due to rising inflation and relatively static wages.
"April's results will give a clearer indication if the later arrival of Easter and the weather over the period impacted the figures significantly or if they are more representative of an accelerated slowdown. In the meantime, the government's business rate relief fund is now available, which will offer welcome light relief to some operators."
The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collected and analysed Easter performance data from 31 operating groups. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.
Late Easter hits March restaurant and pub sales >>
Casual dining sector holding up despite more challenging conditions >>
Casual-dining chains hit by record fall in sales in May >>
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