Like-for-like sales for Britain's managed pub and restaurant groups were up 2.2% for the six weeks over Christmas and New Year.
London saw the greatest improvement, supporting figures from Visa which suggested a 7.3% rise in expenditure in December, with like-for-like sales up 5.1% on 2015 driven by the weakness in sterling attracting overseas visitors. The rest of the UK saw a 1.2% improvement.
Total sales across all companies in the tracker were up 5.4% on the same six weeks in 2015, mostly reflecting new site openings.
CGA Peach vice-president Peter Martin said: "With all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and growing cost concerns for the industry around staffing and business rates, these results will come as a welcome relief for operating companies.
"They also show that people are still willing and able to go out to eat and drink and enjoy themselves given the right offer and opportunity."
He added that, like in 2015, Christmas started late with the increase in spending only beginning in the week leading up to Christmas Day itself, and continuing over New Year.
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said that the numbers were cause for optimism among operators.
He added: "There are going to be cost increases during 2017 and operators need to see sales growth to stand still. After a relatively tough autumn we believe consumers are now returning with more confidence."