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May sun shines on pubs but casts shadow on restaurants

18 June 2018 by

Hot weather in May helped boost trade in Britain's pubs but hit restaurant sales.

While managed pubs saw collective like-for-likes jump 3.5% in May, with drink-led outlets doing best, casual dining brands saw like-for-like sales drop 2.1%, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach business tracker.

The country's managed pub, bar and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales up 1.4% on May last year.

"It's a familiar story. When the sun shines people head for the pub, or more precisely the pub garden. In contrast, restaurants do better when it's dull and damp," said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

Regionally, London did marginally better than the rest of the country with like-for-like sales up 1.6% against 1.4% outside the M25, with the difference between pubs and restaurants mirroring the national picture.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: "Better weather and a World Cup with a record 32 teams should see very strong trading for many pub businesses over the coming period. Restaurants and food led pubs may have a tougher summer to add to the pressures they are under. In the longer term, we see competition for casual dining chains become little less intense as poorer performing units are closed."

"In contrast, it has been a tumultuous 2018 for the eating out market. That said, the recent acquisition of Pret A Manger and Rosa's underline the enduring attractiveness of growth opportunities for overseas investors in the sector. We expect further deals to follow as well-capitalised businesses look to take advantage of better sites at lower rents."

The latest CGA Fourth business confidence survey in May showed that 75% of company leaders are now optimistic about the prospects for their own businesses, with 47% upbeat about the market as a whole - both 11 percentage points higher than at the time of the last confidence survey in February.

Underlying like-for-like growth for the 39 companies in the tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, is still subdued, running at just 0.6% for the 12 months to the end of May, but up from 0.4% at the end of April.

Total sales growth across the cohort, which includes the effect of new openings, was 4.5% in May, reflecting continuing if slower brand roll-outs, and running at 3.8% for the 12 months to the end of the month.

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and analyses performance data from 39 operating groups, with a combined turnover of over £9b.

Early Easter hits April sales but month still an improvement on snow-hit March >>

Bumper Easter weekend brings cheer following a dismal March for operators >>

Pubs continued to prove more resilient than restaurants in February >>

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