Marching on: Spring sales surge for restaurants and pubs

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

CGA Peach collects sales figures directly from 27 leading restaurant and pub companies
CGA Peach collects sales figures directly from 27 leading restaurant and pub companies
Britain’s restaurant and pub groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow 4.6 per cent in March against the same month last year, marking 12 consecutive months of positive growth for the sector. 

According to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, total sales – including the impact of new openings – were up by 7.1 per cent on March 2013.

Much of this increase can be put down to significantly better weather this March than last, when snow and freezing temperatures gripped the country. But, according to Peter Martin of CGA Peach, this is only part of the story.

“Despite monthly fluctuations, the 27 companies contributing to the Tracker have now collectively recorded positive like-for-like sales for each of the past 12 months – and the 4.6 per cent increase in March more than makes up for the 3 per cent sales drop in the corresponding month last year,” said Martin.

“Also, March last year included the start of the Easter holiday weekend. The benefits of Easter this year have yet to come. The managed pub and restaurant sector as a whole is performing well and the eating and drinking out market is showing consistently healthy signs of post-recession growth.”

Both pubs and restaurants benefited equally from this March’s bounce, although operators in London had the best of the uplift, with like-for-likes inside the M25 up 7.3 per cent, compared to 3.4 per cent for the rest of the country. Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales for the Tracker sample are 2.4 per cent up for the 12 months to the end of March, with total sales running 5.1 per cent ahead.

Expert comments

  • Mark Sheehan, managing director,Coffer Corporate Leisure. ​“With the retail sector in disarray this is a positive growth story - 12 months of like for like growth is a clear demonstration that the eating and drinking out market is in long term growth.

​Not only in London and in traditional leisure destinations is there growth but across the board. Restaurants and bars are starting to breathe life into regional high streets up and down the country.   This is a sector with innovation and tremendous prospects.”

  • Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality, Baker Tilly. ​“Continued consumer confidence has driven yet another hugely impressive set of sales growth figures for the UK pub and restaurant industry. London has again led the way with like-for-like sales increasing by a magnificent 7.3 per cent despite the important Easter trading period not being included within this year’s comparables.

​With average wages rising, a low interest rate environment and food price inflation at its lowest rate since February 2010, the outlook for continued growth in the sector is as fine as the recent weather.”

  • Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst, UBS Investment Research. ​“UK pubs and restaurants performed very strongly last month, and although March last year included the Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend, we think the benefit of Easter is still to come in April.

“As with previous months, LFL growth in London has outperformed the rest of the country, however site growth outside the capital continues to be stronger as chains build out. March completes a whole year of positive growth in the industry, and the 12 month moving average now stands at 2 per cent, having improved over the past few months.”

CGA Peach collects sales figures directly from 27 leading companies. Participants include Mitchells & Butlers, Pizza Hut, Whitbread, Gondola, Spirit and Young’s.

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