Snow and cold fails to depress publics eating out appetite

10 February 2015

  • January like-for-like sales up 1.4 per cent on last year
  • 22nd consecutive month of like-for-like growth

Restaurant and managed pub groups saw collective like-for-like sales edge up 1.4 per cent in January, despite the impact of the snow and cold weather that gripped much of Britain during the month. Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker showed that the public continued to go out and especially to eat at branded restaurant chains.

'Trading in the early part of the month suggested that January might have finished down on the same month last year, but a late surge in business saw the sector remain in positive growth,'said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS. 'Perhaps it was down to the pay-day effect or just people tiring of ‘dry’ January, but the sector and in particular restaurants saw the benefit,' he added.

January became the 22nd consecutive month of positive like-for-like growth recorded by the Tracker.

'The bad weather obviously had an impact, with sales only just ahead of last January, but the positive sales momentum remains there. Pub group sales were essentially flat for the month, up just 0.2 per cent. However, restaurant groups, perhaps not as badly affected by weather, enjoyed a 4.1 per cent like-for-like increase for the month, with particularly strong trading outside of London,' said Martin.

'It’s clear that eating-out is now engrained in the British way-of-life, and among the pub groups in our sample, food sales outstripped drink in January – up 2.8 per cent against a 1.2 per cent fall in drinks sales.'

Total sales, which include the impact of new openings, were up 5.8 per cent against last January across the 30 restaurant, bar and pub companies in the Tracker sample. Trading in London was only marginally ahead of the rest of the country during January, up 1.8 per cent against 1.3 per cent outside the M25.

The Coffer Peach Tracker* industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 30 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.

Paul Newman, Head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM, said:

'Almost two years of consecutive like-for-like growth for the UK eating and drinking out market continues to highlight growing consumer confidence. Total annual sales growth of 5.8 per cent, more than double recently published GDP figures, indicates the success of the sector in attracting a greater share of disposable income. With an ever-growing number and breadth of concepts to choose from, it is no surprise that a significant proportion of each additional pound in earnings will be spent in them.'

David Coffer, Chairman of the Coffer Group, said:

'These figures reflect the continuing demand for drink-led venues to include a substantial food offer and that these are becoming more sophisticated with increasingly interesting food and also drinks menus. The quality of product now available across a wide range of operations, especially in central London, and to an ever greater extent outside of London, is galvanising the public’s interest in one-stop venues. We believe this will continue until ultimately there will be a virtually comprehensive merge of both.'

'Demand for premises both in the capital and in important suburban and provincial centres is at an unprecedented level – the highest in our 50 years involvement in the market', he added.

Jarrod Castle, Leisure Analyst at UBS Investment Research, added:

'Sales growth for January was a deceleration from December and November, but this still leaves the 12-month moving average like-for-like growth rate at 2.1 per cent. The 12-month moving average inside the M25 is 3.1 per cent, while outside it is 1.7 per cent.'

Pub and restaurant group sales performance for last 12 months

  Feb March April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan
LFLs  0.2% 4.6% 4.4% 0.2% 0.4% 2.2% 1.3% 2.2% 2.2% 3.4% 1.9% 1.3%
Total 2.7% 7.1% 7.0% 2.5% 3.1% 4.3% 4.3% 5.2% 5.7% 6.8% 5.6% 5.8%

Source: Coffer Peach Business Tracker