Pub groups see sales fall as eating-out market slows in April

19 May 2016

  • Overall market like-for-like sales down 0.8 per cent in April
  • Drop in pub sales undermines growth in casual dining trading 

Britain’s eating and drinking-out market continued to slow-down in April, according to latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Collective like-for-like sales across managed pub and restaurant groups were down 0.8 per cent against the same month last year, and follow a modest 0.6 per cent increase in March.

While restaurant groups saw like-for-like trading increase 2.5 per cent, pub groups experienced a 2.7 per cent decline on April last year. Regionally, London outperformed the rest of Britain, with like-for-likes up 1 per cent against a 1.3 per cent fall outside the M25.

'The overall market is essentially flat, with April’s numbers coming on the back zero growth in February and only a small uptick in March.

'April’s performance can in part be put down to the cold weather, to Easter being in March rather than April this year and also to the general slow-down in the wider economy in the run-up to the Brexit vote, but the underlying fact is that the overall market has been essentially flat since the start of the year, with April’s numbers coming on the back zero growth in February and only a small uptick in March,' said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS.

'The cold weather in the month also helps to explain why restaurants did better than pubs, as poor weather always tends to favour restaurants and good weather pubs,' added Martin. 'But taken together we are seeing a slowdown in market growth.'

'Industry sentiment at the start of the year was that 2016 was going to be a tougher year than last, and that seems to be panning out. Optimism levels among operators are still positive, but down on 2015,' he said.

Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 3.1 per cent on 2015, reflecting the fact that groups are still opening new sites, if at a slower rate than previously.

The underlying annual trend shows sector like-for-likes running at 1.5 per cent up for the 12 months to the end of April.

Pub and restaurant group sales performance for last 12 months

  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov  Dec  Jan  Feb   Mar Apr 
LFLs   2.1%  1.7%  1.1%  0.6%  1.2%  2.5%  -0.2%  1.3%  1.9%  0.0%  0.6%  -0.8%
Total  6.2%  5.8%  4.8%  4.3%  4.6%  6.1%  3.5%  4.7%  5.4%  3.2%  4.9%  3.1%

Source: Coffer Peach Business Tracker 

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 31 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.