On-trade

Curfew & lockdowns put UK hospitality recovery into reverse

Sales across Britain’s pub, bar and restaurant groups were hit hard in the last full week of September with the introduction of new restrictions on hospitality.
“Sales had started to slip back in early September after the Eat Out To Help Out initiative ended, but looked like they were levelling off before this latest round of restrictions were announced,” said Karl Chessell, Director for Food and Retail at CGA.

“Sales had started to slip back in early September after the Eat Out To Help Out initiative ended, but looked like they were levelling off before this latest round of restrictions were announced,” said Karl Chessell, Director for Food and Retail at CGA.

The restrictions hit managed pub, bar and restaurant groups hard, with sales down 23% in the last week of September compared with the same week last year according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, produced by CGA in association with The Coffer Group and RSM there.

With 88% of sites trading before the pandemic now open, total sales for the week across the sector were 28% below 2019 levels but were crucially 8% down on the previous week, reflecting the immediate impact of new restrictions including the 10pm curfew, local lockdowns, table-only service and limits on numbers socialising. These and the ‘rule of six’ saw week-on-week sales drop 15% in drink-led pubs and 11% in food-led pubs. Restaurant groups fared better with week-on-week sales slightly up at 1.9%.

“Sales had started to slip back in early September after the Eat Out To Help Out initiative ended, but looked like they were levelling off before this latest round of restrictions were announced,” said Karl Chessell, Director for Food and Retail at CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM,However operators have proved agile and innovative in their responses to restrictions ever since lockdown and we will see how they adapt to this new round of challenges.”

Drink-led businesses saw the biggest reverse. As well as drink-led pubs suffering, bar businesses saw like-for-like sales down 48% for the week beginning September the 21st, with week-on-week sales falling 14%. Food-focused businesses did relatively better. Pub restaurants and food-led pubs saw like-for-like sales drop 19%, with week-on-week trade down 11%.

“Restaurants have been slower to return since lockdown than pubs and many sites will not reopen at all,” added Karl Chessell, “But their week-on-week sales growth suggests they might be better placed to sustain sales through the period of curfew than drink-led businesses, especially if they can encourage people to eat out earlier in the day.”

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