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Hospitality groups enjoy 5.2% growth in March

Published:  18 April, 2024

In March 2024, Britain’s leading hospitality groups achieved above-inflation like-for-like sales growth of 5.2%, according to the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker.

Though operators benefited from events like Mother’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, most of the growth observed in the Tracker can be attributed to Easter bank holiday revenues, which fell into March this year compared to April last year.

The Tracker, produced by CGA by NIQ in collaboration with RSM UK, indicates that celebrations drove particularly robust growth in the managed pub sector, with like-for-like sales up by 7.2% in March. Restaurants experienced softer growth at 3.4%, while the On The Go segment saw a decline of 5.2%. 

Although bars still recorded a decline of 0.5% in March, this marks an improvement from the significant declines of 13.6% and 7.4% seen in January and February, respectively. The early bank holiday weekend celebrations and holidays positively impacted all hospitality sectors this month.

For the first time since November, restaurant, pub, and bar groups achieved higher growth outside London than within the capital. Sales inside the M25 were 4% ahead of last year but surged by 5.7% beyond it.

Karl Chessell, director at CGA by NIQ, said: “These figures are encouraging for hospitality after a slow start to 2024 and show that people remain eager to celebrate holidays and special occasions in restaurants, pubs, and bars. While spending remains tight for many consumers, we can be cautiously optimistic that their confidence will continue to increase in 2024 in line with an easing of inflation. Operators still face severe headwinds, and it may be some time before they generate sustained real-terms growth, but March showed the sector is moving in the right direction.”

Saxon Moseley, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, added: “An early Easter break and the arrival of Spring weather gave rise to inflation-beating sales growth in March, with pubs the main beneficiaries as friends and family opted to celebrate in their local establishments. After two months of sluggish growth to start the year, operators will be hoping these results represent the green shoots of consumer confidence returning to the market as inflation slows and energy prices fall. 

“The sector has seen several high-profile closures in recent months, with more challenges to follow including minimum wage and rates increases in April and changes to tipping legislation in July. All will be hoping that this sales momentum can continue into the summer months to give businesses some much-needed breathing space and help balance the books.”