Business confidence in eating out stays low despite sales growth in November

By Stefan Chomka contact

- Last updated on GMT

Business confidence in eating out stays low despite sales growth in November

Related tags: Sales, Restaurant, Casual dining

Business confidence among leaders of Britain’s eating and drinking-out market remains strained, despite like-for-like sales growth in the UK pubs and restaurant sector, according to new research.

While 63% of business leaders are optimistic about their own businesses’ prospects for next 12 months, just 39% are upbeat about the market as a whole over the same period, according to CGA’s Business Confidence Survey, produced in partnership with Fourth.

The poll of senior executives from across the pub, bar and restaurant sector, from big corporates to entrepreneurial start-ups, shows that confidence levels have shifted only a few percentage points over the year, according to the research
 
It shows that the number of leaders confident in their own company’s prospects has slipped slightly from 69% in July to 63% , despite the fact that last month more than three quarters said they had traded ahead of or in line with their expectations in the last six months.

“This simply reflects the volatility and uncertainty in the market,” says CGA group chief executive Phil Tate. “This quarterly survey, conducted in November 2018, shows that operators are getting on with business, focusing on improving service and customer experience, as well as increasingly embracing trends in healthy eating and sustainability.”

Trading across Britain’s managed pub and restaurant sector improved in November with collective like-for-like sales up 1.5% against the same month last year, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. London outpaced the rest of Britain with like-for-likes up 2.3%, compared to 1.3% outside the M25.

Restaurant operators have reported like-for-like sales up 0.6%. Pubs recorded a 2.1% rise in sales, led by an increase in drinks sales, up 3.0% against an 0.6% uplift in food sales. “There is no doubt that currently, drink-led operations are leading the way,” says Coffer Group Chairman David Coffer.

The figures show that the future of the high street is likely to be more food and drink led than retail, says Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at auditor RSM. “With retailers recently reporting the biggest drop in footfall for the month of November since 2009, the relative health of eating and drinking out is a better indicator of where the future of the High Street lies,” he says.

“For operators, many will be hoping that the growing Brexit uncertainty drives consumers to seek solace in their restaurants, pubs and bars throughout the all-important Christmas trading period.”

Among its predictions for 2019, RSM says that the fight for lunchtime spending will intensify next year and that an increasing number of restaurants and bars will adopt the co-working revolution and offer packages or day rates for people to use their spaces to work during the day.

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