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On-trade kickstarts 2020 on a positive note

Published:  12 February, 2020

The on-trade sector has started 2020 on a positive note with like-for-like sales up 1.9% in January compared to the same month last year, according to the latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

January’s positive results come on the back of strong trading over the festive period across Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants, which saw collective like-for-likes up 2.5% against the previous year.

Regionally London had a tougher start to the year but still saw like-for-likes up 0.7% compared to 2.3% outside the M25. 

Overall sales were driven by restaurant groups which saw the biggest increase with like-for-likes up 2.5%, driven almost entirely by strong sales outside the capital, with managed pubs posting 1.7% like-for-likes growth over the month, while bar operators were up by just only 0.9%.

While the “reasonably good weather” would have helped sales, it was nonetheless encouraging to see that the public was continuing to go out to eat and drink, said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

Underlying annual like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 1.6% at the end of January. 

Total sales for the month, which include the effect of new openings since this time last year, were ahead 4.7% compared to same period in 2019.

Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “To put these figures in context, last January the market saw a 1.8% drop in like-for-likes against 2018, so essentially we are back to where we were two years ago. But it does show an underlying stability in the market, despite the political climate and what has been going on in the wider economy. The eating and drinking out market is showing resilience and people’s appetite for going out remains intact.”

There was a “universal feeling of improved investor confidence which had however not yet translated into a deal flow”, he added.

“The stabilised consumer confidence combined with a stronger investor mentality is likely to result in steady improvement as the year progresses. We are off to a decent start.”

 The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub, bar and restaurant sector collects and analyses performance data from 58 operating groups, with together almost 10,000 sites and a combined turnover of over £11bn.