The UK's leading pub and restaurant groups bounced back in November thanks to school half terms, with collective like-for-like sales up 3.4% on the same month last year, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
A total of 24 major restaurant and pub companies provide data for the tracker, which had previously shown a drop of 1.7% in like-for-like sales for the sector in October. Total sales for November, including the effect of new openings, rose by 6.5%.
"School half terms are invariably a good time for eating-out sales, with London trading ahead of the rest of the country last month and restaurant chains doing marginally better than pubs too," said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the market consultancy that produces the sector tracker, in partnership with KPMG, UBS and the Coffer Group.
"However, the big half-term boost at the start of the month masked a more sober performance over the rest of November. Sales in latter weeks were depressed as people appeared to be more reluctant to go out, possibly saving their cash for December's pre-Christmas period. The market will hope so."
The Coffer Peach Business Tracker monitors monthly performance across major pub and restaurant operators, including the likes of Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread restaurants, Pizza Hut, Punch Pub Co, Gondola (owner of PizzaExpress), Tragus (Café Rouge and Bella Italia), Wagamama and TGI Friday's.
Underlying figures for the 12 months up to the end of October show combined year-on-year like-for-like sales running ahead 1.5%, broadly in line with the general trend for 2012. Regionally, the Coffer Peach figures showed the London market trading more strongly than outside the M25 during November.
Ali Aneizi, co-head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said: "The November like-for-likes are a much welcome reversal of the decline posted in October. It's now all hands on deck for the festive season with many operators banking on a bumper trading period. However, it remains to be seen what will happen in December. The industry has some way to go to beat the 9.9% like for likes posted in December 2011. As far as regional variances are concerned, London has again outperformed the rest of the country, a trend which has continued for eight months in a row."
Jonathan Leinster, head of UBS European Leisure Research, added: "After strong like-for-like growth in 2011, site growth picked up from August 2011 and was averaging over 4% from September 2011 to April 2012, before starting to decelerate. The deceleration appears to be continuing, with lower site growth probably reflecting the impact of mixed like-for-like performances in 2012 on investment plans."
By Kerstin Kühn
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