Pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK enjoyed an uplift in business in November following flat trading over most of the last six months.
Collective like-for-like sales were up 2.2% on the same month last year, according to new figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which monitors the results of 38 companies in the casual drink and dining sector.
Pubs were the strongest performers with collective like-for-like sales ahead, with drink-led businesses producing the strongest figures, while restaurant chain achieved like-for-like growth of 1.2% compared with November 2016.
Trading outside London was stronger than in the capital, with like-for-like sales outside the M25 up 2.7% for the month, compared with 0.9% inside the M25.
Peter Martin, vice-president of business insight consultancy CGA, that produces the tracker with Coffer Group and RSM, said: "November's numbers will be welcome news for a sector that has been hit hard this year with rising cost pressures across property, people and food, all squeezing operational margins."
Total sales growth during the month among the surveyed companies was 5.9%, compared to November last year, reflecting the number of new openings, which have slowed significantly over the past year, particularly among restaurant brands.
"For the first time in years, managed pub and bar groups are opening new sites at a faster rate than casual dining companies," added Martin.
Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, explained: "It seems the reduced rate of new restaurant openings is helping to sustain like-for-like comparisons. The figures are somewhat stronger than some commentators were fearing, which will hopefully translate to some pleasing results over the festive period and that there will be some reasons to be cheerful as we enter the busiest trading season.
"The figures are a particular relief for restaurant operators, who over the past two years have seen their underlying like-for-like growth rate cut by more than half due to competition from start-ups concepts and new brands who have increased choice for consumers in UK market towns and major cities."
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: "As the economic squeeze on living costs sees the emergence of a more cost-conscious consumer, it will be interesting to see which operators break rank to hike menu prices. With the all-important festive trading season in full swing, the sector will be looking to claw back lost margin to shore up finances ahead of the tougher first quarter of the New Year."
Companies surveyed for the Coffer Peach Tracker include Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Pizza Express, the Restaurant Group (Frankie & Bennys, Chiquitos, Brunning & Price), and Casual Dining Group (Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas).
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