Branded restaurant groups performed slightly better than managed pubs, with like-for-likes ahead 2.2 per cent, against a 1.6 per cent increase for the month for pub groups, BigHospitality's sister site MCA has reported.
This reverses the trend of July and August, which saw casual dining slightly down on 2015. However, the pub numbers can still be seen as strong as the Rugby World Cup kicked off in mid-September last year, which helped boost the drinking out market.
The tracker said that the most encouraging news was that the uplift was not just driven by London and tourism.
The September figures show a bigger increase outside the M25, where collective like-for-likes were up 2.2 per cent against a 0.9 per cent rise in the capital.
Total sales for the month among the 34 companies in the Tracker cohort were up five per cent on September 2015, reflecting new site openings over the past 12 months among participants.
The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 0.7 per cent up for the 12 months to the end of September, broadly in line with the trend seen over the summer as a whole.
“It’s the third month in a row following the EU referendum that that sector has recorded positive growth, suggesting that consumer confidence remains upbeat following a sluggish start to the year,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
“The good weather will have helped trade this September, but the underlying trend for the market as a whole has been upwards right across the summer, so operators can take some heart from the fact that the public doesn’t appear to have cut back on going out despite the continuing longerterm economic uncertainty around Brexit.”
But Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffee Corporate Leisure, warned that the industry could still face tougher times ahead.
He said: “Hospitality is often a bellwether of confidence and these figures show the continued resilience of UK consumers. However, the news this week that inflation has hit the highest levels for two years, plus rising import and fuel costs, could well mean that we start to see a dip in consumer confidence levels and reduced spend on eating out as cost increases start to get passed on to customers."