Sales within the hospitality sector grew by 0.6% in July compared with the same month last year, demonstrating growth of the sector despite a hostile consumer climate.
Total sales growth in July among the 37 companies in the Tracker cohort, which includes the likes of Casual Dining Group, Byron, Wagamama and Le Bistrot Pierre, was 3.7%, driven by new openings over the year. Underlying annual sales trends show sector like-for-likes are expected to run at 1.6% for the next 12 months.
A poll last month by market researcher GfK found that consumer confidence across the UK has fallen to the level last seen in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. Yet the latest data from the Tracker shows this did not have an adverse effect on the hospitality sector, with London showing growth of 0.5% and regions outside the M25 marginally ahead with growth of 0.7%.
Restaurant chains edged ahead of pub groups in performance, showing a collective 0.9% like-for-like growth rate against 0.4% for pub and bar operators.
“Despite all the media talk of fragile consumer confidence, it appears that the British are continuing to go out to eat and drink much as they did last year – which is good news,” says Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, which produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
“However, the increased cost pressures that operators across the sector are facing this year, particularly from increases in business rates and food costs, mean that margins are being squeezed and businesses are feeling the pinch.”
These latest figures will be greeted with a degree of relief by operators, according to Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK. “Despite household budgets becoming increasingly stretched, consumers continue to indulge in eating and drinking out,” he says.
“We’ve seen businesses who develop exciting and affordable concepts outpacing competitors and attracting investors keen to support ambitious roll out plans.”