Despite a slow run-up at the end of November and beginning of December, like-for-like sales were up 1.8 per cent on 2014 across the 30 companies monitored for the six weeks ending 3 January.
“Perhaps the most interesting feature was that the big increases in sales were all seen in just the last two weeks, which included the Christmas and New Year holidays, when like-for-like sales were up by over 4.5 per cent on 2014 in each week," said CGA Peach vice president Peter Martin.
Wet-led pubs were the best performers among the operators, which include Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread, Spirit Group, PizzaExpress and Azzurri Group which collectively saw a 3.1 per cent like-for-like increase over the same period last year. Restaurant groups generally had a smaller uplift with the best trading outside of London.
Martin said increasing competition in all areas of the industry had led to a slowing down of trade for everyone.
Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, predicts it will remain tough into 2016.
He said: “Looking ahead we do predict a tougher 2016 with a marked downturn in consumer confidence and strong completion in the sector from the many expanding restaurant, bar and pub groups. Notwithstanding, overall we continue to expect growth ahead of inflation in most parts of the country and the various sub sectors.”