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Hospitality sales up 6% in Q4

Published:  02 February, 2024

New data from Fourth has revealed hospitality revenue in Q4 2023 is up 6.1% year-on-year.

The figures, which are pulled from a database of more than 700 companies across the UK’s restaurant, pub and hotel sectors, offer a welcome boost to the trade during a ‘cost-of-doing-business crisis’.

December sales were particularly strong across the industry, with an overall increase of 10.5% versus December 2022.

Sales revenue in pubs declined by 8.7% in November 2023 compared to the previous year, before rising in December to reach an increase of 6.7% above December 2022 figures.

In restaurants, sales rose by 2.9% in November 2023 compared to November 2022, and sales were up 6.4% in December 2023.

Meanwhile, weekday trading levels increased across the sector in Q4 2023, with Monday to Thursday sales revenue growing by 4.5% compared to Q4 2022. Weekend sales also saw an increase, with 1.5% sales growth on Fridays and Saturdays in Q4 2023.

However, despite these positive sales figures, food price inflation hit 9.1% in Q4 2023, forcing operators to raise prices by an average of 7.1% to offset costs. 

Drinks have also paid the price, half a year after the government green-lit its widely criticised reforms to UK alcohol duty, inflation for wines and spirits rose markedly from 3.5% in December 2022 to just under 9.6% last December. 

Furthermore, staff headcount continues to trend down across hospitality, having fallen 2% in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 2022. Headcount in pubs decreased by 6% in December 2023 compared to December 2022, while the number of restaurant workers fell by 2.5%. In contrast, hotels showed modest growth with a rise of 0.8% year-on-year.

The proportion of new starters has fallen significantly, dropping by 30% in November 2023 versus the previous year. While the festive period typically represents a busy time for recruitment, these figures are likely a reflection of the increased costs of doing business, as operators are reluctant to hire more staff for fear of further eating into their bottom lines.

Sebastien Sepierre, MD of EMEA, Fourth, said: “With the festive trading period being such a crucial time for hospitality, it’s fantastic to see such a significant growth in sales compared to 2022. These figures can hopefully provide operators with a sense of cautious optimism as we head into 2024.

“However, the high cost of doing business across the sector continues to be a major concern for operators, who are looking to control costs in an effort to remain profitable during this turbulent economic period.