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News > Business

September washout hits sales growth for Britain's top restaurants and pubs

By Peter Ruddick , 16-Oct-2012
Last updated on 16-Oct-2012 at 12:09 GMT

September's rain and bad weather held back sales growth at Britain’s leading pub and restaurant groups with like-for-like sales up just 0.7 per cent, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

The latest data from the industry's sales barometer shows only marginal improvement on performance a year ago after a healthy rise in August of 2.1 per cent. 

Total sales for September, after taking into account the effect of new openings, rose 4.1 per cent. 

Wet-led

Digging deeper into the figures it appears clear poor weather, and in particular the rain, continues to have a big impact on the sector's leading companies. 

"The first week of September saw a big boost in sales, but the downpour in the last week was a washout for business, and especially pubs, leaving overall trading essentially flat," Peter Martin from Peach Factory said.

The latest data from the business intelligence firm Peach Factory appears to back up a number of pub operators which have recently reported mixed or poor financial figures as a result of the wet weather.

"It goes to show that the weather remains a major influence on trading patterns for the eating and drinking out sector. In September the wet weather particularly depressed alcohol and pub sales, while food and eating out held up better," Martin added.

Paul Newman, co-head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, said operators would be disappointed the sales increase in August had not carried on into September. 

"Last year’s comparative sales were always going to be tough to beat, when the warmest end to September for over 100 years gave a late season boost to the industry. That was in stark contrast to this year’s downpours that persuaded consumers to stay at home."

Consumer confidence

The tracker, which is produced in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS, also showed combined total sales for the 25 leading groups that contribute to the data were up 5.8 per cent in the 12 months to the end of August compared with a year earlier.

That resulted in a rise in combined like-for-like sales of 1.7 per cent.

The impact of the poor weather did not discriminate depending on where the business was located, the tracker also revealed. There was little difference in trading between those inside and outside of the M25 although pubs in London fared marginally better as did restaurants outside the capital.

While Newman argued investment and private equity interest was continuing to help the sector in the long-term, Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, warned the results should serve as a warning that consumer confidence remains weak with little improvement from 2010.

"Although the corporate operators are growing market share, there is significant pressure on leisure spending for most households. Operators must continue to deliver value for money now more than ever."

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