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On-trade groups report 26% sales dip in May

Published:  14 June, 2021

Britain’s managed bar, restaurant and pub groups recorded a 26% drop in total sales in May compared with the same month in 2019, according to the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.

The figure encompasses two full weeks of inside service for hospitality operators from 17 May, preceded by a fortnight of outdoor-only trading, with the freedom to serve indoors giving a boost to the managed restaurant sector, where total sales were down 13% on May 2019. 

However, ongoing distancing restrictions held down pubs’ sales at 34% below 2019’s levels, despite a sunny Bank Holiday weekend helping them to end May strongly. Bars were the weakest segment for the second month in a row, with total sales down 38%.

On a like-for-like sales basis, groups recorded a 15% drop* in May 2021 from May 2019 — a modest improvement on April’s figure of -26%. Restaurants were down only 6%, but pubs (down 22%) and bars (down 25%) again lagged behind. 

While the return of inside service has led to the reopening of the majority of restaurants, pubs and bars, CGA’s research has shown that a significant number remain closed, with profitable trading not yet viable for many operators.

Rolling 12-month sales to the end of May were 48% below the previous 12 months.

“May brought a solid if unspectacular return to inside trading for managed restaurants, pubs and bars,” said Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, which produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

“Consumers have been eager to get back inside restaurants, and sunny weather helped pubs close the month on a high, but distancing and other trading constraints continue to offset those benefits,” he said. 

While the long-term outlook for the sector remained good, so much now depended on whether the government sticks to its roadmap to recovery, he added.

"Any delay to the removal of restrictions from 21 June would badly set back hospitality’s fragile recovery just as it starts.”

 A total of 57 companies provided data to the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.

*Total sales: This figure includes F&B sales coming from all sites trading in the accounting period in question vs all sites that traded in the accounting period in comparison.

Like for like sales: This figure includes F&B sales coming from same sites that traded both in the accounting period in question and were also trading in the accounting period in comparison.