Its latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which tracks the sales data of 38 hospitality companies, shows that restaurant group like-for-like sales fell 1.5% in October compared to the same month last year.
Restaurants in London were worst hit, suffering a 2.1% fall in same store sales during the month, coming on the back of a 3.2% decline in September.
Pubs and bars had a better month, with like-for-like sales up 1.4% against last October.
Total sales growth in October was 4%, reflecting the continuing - albeit subdued effect - of new openings, which have slowed significantly over the past year.
“With inflation running at 3%, sales are effectively going backwards, and with cost pressures in the industry, around food inflation and people in particular, still rising, times are tough for operators,” says Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, which compiles the Tracker.
Martin says the figures show little or no growth in the branded eating and drinking out market, as although the British public are continuing to go out, they are not spending any more or going any more frequently. Combined with inflation, this translates to a decline in sales.
There is some hope in the fact that October’s flat trading was “at least better than the 0.9% decline the market experienced in September”, says Martin.
The festive trading season may be make-or-break in terms of trade for some operators, adds Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM.
“It’s a second month of poor like-for-like sales for the sector, with casual dining groups being particularly hit. Operators will be desperate to see a reversal of this trend throughout the all-important festive trading season.
“For some, it could be the difference between survival or failure as we move into the New Year.”