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On-trade group sales nearly level with 2019

Published:  19 July, 2021

Britain's managed pub, restaurant and bar groups saw sales in June nearly level with the same month in 2019 on both a total and like-for-like basis, according to the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker.

This marked a significant improvement on May trading, when sales were down 26% on the same month in 2019.

Demand in June was particularly strong in restaurants, where total sales were up 3%. Pubs however, recorded a 2% drop with mixed weather and restrictions dampening any benefit from the Euro 2020. Bars fared worse with sales dropping 11% due to social distancing and early closing requirements impacting footfall.

The Tracker indicates a particularly good month for regions beyond London  sales outside the M25 were up 4% in June, but down by 11% inside the M25.

June's figures were a testament to the enduring appeal of restaurants, pubs and bars, and the resilience of the businesses behind them, said CGA.

“With an easing of Covid restrictions imminent, it suggests a bright outlook for the eating and drinking out sector,” said Karl Chessell, director  hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA.

However, he warned, rising costs and limited capacity meant that many businesses were still struggling to make a profit, and major challenges, including debt burdens and a recruitment crisis, were casting a long shadow. 

“Hospitality remains fragile, and it will need sustained support and concessions from government in the months ahead if it is to help drive the UK's economic recovery,” he said. 

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: "The easing of restrictions later this month should provide more opportunities for get-togethers although it's clear that a combination of Brexit, Covid restrictions and test and trace continue to have a huge impact on staffing availability. 

“This squeeze in the labour market for a sector that is so heavily dependent on people is likely to dampen sales over the coming months. The finances of many operators remain on a knife-edge and the government needs to consider a relaxation of visa barriers for hospitality workers to support the sector's recovery."

The Tracker also confirmed the lasting impact of the pandemic on hospitality, with managed groups' sales in the 12 months to June 2021 down by 27% on the previous 12 months. Research for the CGA and AlixPartners Market Recovery Monitor meanwhile shows that Britain now has around 9,000 fewer licensed premises than it did a year ago.

A total of 55 companies provided data to the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.