The results did not meet the industry’s bumper-weekend expectations, but have to be put into perspective, as this year’s Easter came after an already buoyant period, whereas last year fell after a terrible winter.
Peter Martin of business insight consultancy CGA Peach, said: “Easter last year saw like-for-like sales up 7% on the year before, with better weather after a bleak March bringing consumers out of their homes, with restaurants the main beneficiaries then. So we perhaps shouldn’t have expected to match that this time. However, 2014 was still up on 2012.”
Better weather since the beginning of this year has meant better overall trading for the market, with collective like-for-like sales up 4.6 per cent in March - the 12th consecutive month of positive growth.
Like-for-like sales at the end of March were running 2.4 per cent up from the previous 12 months, and despite Easter trading being a little down on last year, Martin was optimistic that April’s numbers will remain on the underlying upward trend.
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “Weaker like-for-likes this year highlight that Easter 2013 saw better weather, after the miserable snow-hit winter, and that the pent up demand this caused resulted in a bumper trading period for operators. However, these figures don’t reflect what we have been seeing generally and it is therefore important that they are considered in the wider context of the market. Consumer spending on food and drink is in long-term growth. This reflects the changing habits of consumers as well as a country’s wider economy and we expect spectacular growth for the remainder of this year.”
In pubs alone, beer sales were down 4.2 per cent in Q1 2014 compared to the same time last year, which the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) also blames on rain and a late Easter.
“A late Easter break and the impact of severe flooding early in the year have affected beer sales, although sales did not fall as much as they did this time last year [5.4 per cent]. The outlook ahead is certainly more positive with the Easter sales, an expected World Cup uplift and the further boost from a cut in Beer Duty from the Chancellor,” said Brigid Simmonds OBE, BBPA chief executive.
Despite two quarters of growth in beer sales, times are still challenging for the sector, but the association hopes that the further cut in beer duty announced by the Chancellor in his March budget and effective from April will provide the boost pubs need.
How did your business perform for Easter?
Great - we surpassed expectations!14%
Alright - not amazing but steady.57%
Not well - the weather put a downer on our sales.29%