However the figures, which covers three full weeks of outside-only service in England as well as briefer trading in Scotland and Wales, represents a 'solid return to trading' for the sector, according to the report.
Operators enjoyed the benefit of generally good weather and strong consumer confidence in the first fortnight of trading, though low temperatures and rain dampened sales towards the end of the month.
The Tracker shows pubs have outperformed restaurants since reopening, thanks in part to greater availability of outside space. Pubs’ April sales were 21% down on April 2019, compared to a 30% drop for restaurants. Bars were the weakest segment, with like-for-like sales down 39%.
On a total sales basis, with the majority of sites still closed, groups saw a 60% drop in April 2021 from April 2019. Restaurants (down 51%) performed better than pubs (down 67%) on this measure, due to strong delivery and takeaway sales.
The latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker also highlights the scale of damage to groups' sales since the start of the pandemic. Total sales over the last 12 months have been 56% lower than in the previous year.
“Managed groups made the best they could of trading opportunities in April, amid some tough restrictions and the vagaries of the British spring weather,” says Karl Chessell, business unit director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA.
“They have been very resourceful in their use of limited space, and for pubs in particular it has been a good springboard for a fuller reopening from 17 May. But the drop in sales of more than half over the last 12 months is a reminder of just how hard the industry has been hit by lockdowns and restrictions.
"While consumers are eager to get back to hospitality, it is clearly going to be a long and uneven road to recovery, and the sector will need sustained support from government if it is to help reignite the UK economy over the rest of 2021.”
A total of 48 companies provided data to the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.
CGA produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.