The UK's major pub and chain restaurant operators saw combined like-for-like sales drop 4.2% in December compared with 12 months previously, as snow kept customers at home.
Improved trading over the festive period helped to pull back some trade lost owing to the severe weather that hit at the beginning of December, but it was not enough to avoid an overall fall, according to the latest monthly Coffer Peach Business Tracker data.
The report, produced by analyst firm Peach Factory in partnership with consultancy KPMG, investment bank UBS and property agent the Coffer Group, monitors sales performance across 17 major pub and restaurant operators, including Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread, Pizza Hut, Punch Pub Co, Gondola and Tragus.
It shows that while December sales were up by 37.7% up on November, total sales for the month, which include new openings, were down 3.4% against 2009.
"Heavy snow in the busiest weeks of the year is bad news, and way more significant than for the weeks lost to snow in January 2010, which experienced a 5% sale drop as January is always a quiet month," said Peach Factory founder Peter Martin.
Trevor Watson, a director at Davis Coffer Lyons, part of the Coffer Group, said the results were also affected by some operators bringing in price increases early in order to counter the effect of the hike in VAT in January.
The disappointing December figures ended a broadly positive year for the casual-dining sector, with six consecutive months of positive same-outlet sales being recorded up to and including November.
By Daniel Thomas
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