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August on-trade recovery hits new high

Published:  13 September, 2021

A mix of growing consumer confidence, pent up demand and staycations pushed sales in Britain’s managed restaurants, pubs and bars above pre-pandemic levels in August.

The latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker revealed that total sales across the manged sector were up 5% on August 2019, also representing the first month of year-on-year growth since hospitality reopened in April.

The total sales figures were also up 35% on August 2020, when the government’s Eat Out to Help out scheme sought to boost a return to restaurants, pubs and bars.

The Tracker also revealed that managed restaurant groups outperformed the wider sector, with total sales up 7% on August 2019.

August was the first month of restriction-free trading, also seeing pubs recording 3% growth, and bars – which had been most severely hit by restrictions and closures – up 21% on August 2019.

However, in a stark reminder of the uneven playing field faced by businesses, sales outside the M25 were up 9% in total, while inside the M25, impacted by the loss of workers and tourists, sales were down by 7% on August 2019.

Over a longer timeframe, The Tracker showed 12-month sales to the end of August 2021 were down by 15% on the 12 months to August 2020, despite that first period including the UK’s first national lockdown.

“August was another impressive month of recovery for managed groups from the havoc wreaked by Covid-19. It is a particularly impressive performance given the severe operational pressures that many businesses are working under, including staff shortages, supply problems and rising costs,” said Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA.

“While trading conditions remain some way off pre-Covid norms, August will hopefully act as a springboard for a strong final four months of 2021 for the sector.”