Muted sales rise for restaurants in May as pubs benefit from bumper bank holidays

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Muted sales rise for restaurants in May as pubs benefit from bumper bank holidays

Related tags Casual dining Multi-site Inflation Cga Cost of living

Britain’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups achieved an eighth consecutive month of year-on-year sales growth in May 2023, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker shows.

The Tracker — which is produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK — reveals like-for-like sales increased by 5.6% in May, which was boosted by a succession of Bank Holidays including an extended weekend for the King’s Coronation.

Pubs also benefited from widespread warm weather with like-for-like sales 8.8% ahead of last May.

Trading at restaurants was more muted, with sales up by 2.7%.

Bars, meanwhile, recorded a 6.6% drop in sales to continue a challenging year for the channel.

While managed groups’ total sales showed solid growth, May trading was dampened in many areas by rail strikes, while fragile consumer confidence continues to impact the frequency of visits to pubs, bars and restaurants.

Additionally, high inflation means sales remained below the levels of May 2022 in real terms.

“Pub operators were the undoubted winners of May’s triple bank holiday, capitalising on coronation fever as customer purse strings were loosened by the warmer weather and news of energy price cap reductions,” says Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK.

“With food and drink inflation still at peak levels, restaurant operators felt the pinch with growth still in negative territory in real terms.”

The Tracker also highlights the ongoing recovery of London’s hospitality sector after the turmoil of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Managed groups’ sales rose by an above-inflation 12.6% year-on-year, thanks in part to an influx of visitors for the Coronation. This was more than twice the level of the 4.9% growth beyond the M25 in May.

“The next few months will be telling, particularly in London which experienced inflation-busting performance in May compared to the rest of the country,” continues Newman.

“Now that the King’s Coronation is behind us, the capital’s long term recovery is dependent on further momentum from inbound tourism.

“Chinese tourists remain cautious and are staying closer to home for now leaving operators to wonder if the capital’s revival will be sustained during the summer months or whether May was a one hit wonder.”

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