Managed sector toasts 'bumper' December

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Britain’s top hospitality groups toast bumper December with year-on-year sales growth of 8.8%

Related tags Christmas Sales growth Sales Cga Casual dining

Britain’s top hospitality groups generated year-on-year sales growth of 8.8% in December, the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals.

The excellent result capped a solid 2023 for managed pubs, bars and restaurants, who collectively achieved like-for-like growth in every month.

“December’s Tracker numbers show the enduring appeal of pubs, bars and restaurants over the festive season,” says Karl Chessell, director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ.

“They are a welcome sign that pressure on consumers’ spending may be easing, and the extra revenue is vital to groups as we enter quieter trading months.”

December’s figure is a sharp increase from 4% in November, and more than double the current rate of inflation in the UK, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
The Tracker — produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK — reveals like-for-like sales growth of 9.6% for pubs in December, while restaurants enjoyed an 8.3% upswing.

Bars bounced back from a long run of negative figures with growth of 5.6%. Trading in the On The Go segment — a new segment for the Tracker — was 3.1% ahead.

Growth in London was once again higher than elsewhere. Restaurants inside the M25 enjoyed like-for-like growth of 11.8% with pubs not far behind at 11.5%.

Outside the capital, sales growth for restaurants was positive but more subdued, with like-for-likes up 8%.

​London's pubs and restaurants emerge as clear winners when it comes to festive trade for 2023,” says Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK.

​In 2022, train strikes sucked demand out of the sector and these like-for-like sales numbers are reflective of the first proper Christmas for operators post-Covid.”

Newman adds that a bumper Christmas doesn’t resolve ongoing challenges for the sector, particularly for smaller independent operators as they struggle to cope with the growing cost of borrowing, energy bills and ingredients. 

​The first quarter is always a particularly acute time for the hospitality sector, with lower footfall, quarterly rent payments and higher VAT bills that have already been blamed for the closure of several high-profile restaurants​,” he continues.
​To have navigated the market post-Covid only to fail now is heart-wrenching for these owners and further casualties look inevitable as hikes in national living wages and business rates from April make more businesses unviable.”

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