Figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show that like-for-like sales fell 5 per cent compared to December as the bad weather conditions forced diners to stay at home.
”With so many city centres feeling more like ghost towns it is perhaps surprising that the figures weren’t worse,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory.
“It proves once again the major effect that bad weather can have on this sector.”
First drop in nine months
Until January, sales figures at the restaurant and pub groups surveyed, which include Gondola, Tragus, Mitchells & Butlers and Whitbread, had risen for nine consecutive months. The change in the VAT rate is also thought to be a factor in the change.
David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, said: “The extreme weather conditions changed consumer patterns and downgraded turnover across the board in January, a month traditionally lacklustre in the trading calendar.
"The real effect of the discounting deals that the industry has seen in the last 18 months will surely come to surface soon and it will be interesting to see the impact it will have on the bottom line. The test of recovery will be in the next quarter’s results.”
Despite the drop, Martin said companies were remaining 'generally optimistic' for the rest of the year. In a survey carried out for Peach Factory, 50 per cent of senior executives are feeling optimistic compared to 20 per cent who felt the opposite.