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Strong April for hospitality cancelled out by inflation

Published:  24 May, 2023

Britain’s leading managed restaurant, pub and bar groups achieved like-for-like and YOY sales growth of 6.9% in April 2023, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker reveals.

It is the seventh positive month in a row for hospitality and significantly higher than the figure of 1.4% in March. However, growth remains well below the current rate of inflation, while rising costs continue to impact both consumers’ spending and businesses’ margins.

According to a separate report conducted by UKHospitality and CGA, hospitality turnover in the last year was 14.7% down compared to pre-pandemic levels, when accounting for inflation. 

The same tracker also shows that the sector’s turnover contracted by 0.3% in Q1 this year, compared to Q1 in 2022.

UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Unfortunately, these figures no longer come as a surprise and simply reinforce the chronic nature of the pressure hospitality is under due to inflation.

“Despite consumer demand remaining strong and revenue being up on 2019, businesses are simply nowhere near able to keep up with the cost pressures they’re facing across energy, food and drink.”

However, April trading was boosted by public holidays, where like-for-like sales were 8.1% up YOY for pubs. Growth in the restaurant sector was fractionally behind at 7.6%, but bars had another difficult month, with sales down 9.1%. 

Managed groups continued their strong post-Covid recovery in London, where April sales rose 10.4% year-on-year, ust ahead of inflation. Growth beyond the M25 stood at 5.8%.

Karl Chessell, director of hospitality operators and food at CGA, said: “April’s trading figures show the impressive resilience and appeal of managed restaurant, pub and bar groups in a very challenging market. It’s particularly pleasing to see the sustained recovery in London, where Covid restrictions took a heavy toll on hospitality. Consumers clearly remain eager to eat and drink out, and we can be optimistic that their spending will increase when household bills start to ease, but with inflation so high, real-terms growth remains elusive.”

CGA collected sales figures directly from 75 leading companies for the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.