Restaurant groups see modest sales growth as wider sector suffers from April showers slump

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Credit: Getty / piranka
Credit: Getty / piranka

Related tags Cga Casual dining Multi-site Restaurant Sales

Britain’s top hospitality groups saw sales drop 1.7% year-on-year in April 2024 after widespread wet weather, the new CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals.

It is the first year-on-year drop in monthly sales since September 2022 and a sharp contrast with March, when groups achieved 5.2% growth​ thanks to drier weather and an early Easter.

Last month faced tough comparatives with April 2023, which included the full Easter holiday.

The Tracker —produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK — also suggests that the slightly weaker sales may by a sign some consumers remain hesitant about their spending despite an easing of inflation in recent months.

“After 18 consecutive months of year-on-year growth, the hospitality sector had a challenging April,” says Karl Chessell, director, CGA by NIQ.

“It’s a reminder of the very close correlation between the weather and sales, and a sign that some consumers have been saving their eating and drinking out for special occasions and holidays like Easter.

“Brighter weather in May should help to encourage more people out to eat and drink, and the medium to long term outlook for hospitality remains good—but it’s clear that businesses and consumers alike continue to face some severe cost pressures.”

The Tracker shows the impact of the weather on pubs, where sales were 1.5% down as consumers stayed away from beer gardens and terraces.

Restaurants, which sometimes benefit from wetter weather, achieved modest like-for-like growth of 1.2%.

Bars were hit hardest, with sales dropping 15.1% below the levels of April 2023. The on-the-go segment was 4.2% down.

Hospitality groups performed better in London than elsewhere, the Tracker shows. April sales inside the M25 were 0.3% ahead of last year, but down by 2.2% beyond the M25.

“April’s poor results will undoubtedly have been impacted by the early Easter break which largely fell into the previous month, but poor weather and sluggish consumer confidence will also have contributed to the first like for like reduction in sales since 2022,” says Saxon Moseley, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK.

“Whilst there are reasons to be optimistic later in the year with consumer confidence set to rise on the back of wages rising in real terms and interest rates beginning to fall, April’s disappointing results will do little to lift spirits after what was already a lacklustre first quarter for many.

“The industry desperately needs a prolonged spell of dry, warm weather as a prelude to a long summer of sporting events, bringing supporters together in their local pubs and bars.” 

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