Tougher restrictions drive pub and restaurant group sales into reverse

13 November 2020

  • Drink-led pubs see sales fall by over a third in October
  • London continues to lag behind the rest of Britain
  • Delivery’s share of restaurant sales up to 12 per cent nationally

The roll-out of more regional COVID restrictions further depressed sales in Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups in October, latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show.

With 83 per cent of group-owned sites open, down from 88 per cent in September, total sales across the whole managed sector were down 33.9 per cent on the same month last year, a clear deterioration from September when sales were 20.3 per cent below 2019 levels and August when they were just 12.2 per cent down.

All parts of the market performed worse than in September. Like-for-like sales in those businesses trading were 28.9 per cent below October last year, compared to a 14.7 per cent fall in September.

“Drink-led pubs and bars have been particularly badly hit, and with England now in full-lockdown, you can only wonder how many will re-emerge in their current state, how many will have to revamp their trading styles, including switching their emphasis to food?” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

“What’s crystal clear is that even before total lockdown in England, the imposition of Tier 2 and 3 restrictions across large swathes of northern England, as well as the tough restrictions in Scotland and Wales, had a massive negative impact on sales performance.” added Chessell.

Drink-led pubs saw total sales down 37.6 per cent and like-for-likes down 35.3 per cent on October last year. Corresponding figures in September were minus 22.7 per cent and minus 21.1 per cent. Food-led pubs and pub restaurants fared a little better, but still performed markedly worse than in September, with total sales down 28.9 per cent and like-for-likes down 27.8 per cent. Across all managed pubs food sales were down 24.5 per cent with drink sales dropping 37.6 per cent on the same time last year.

Restaurant groups performed the best, helped by the cut in VAT on food and delivery sales, but still saw total sales down 29.6 per cent, and like-for-likes 19.5 per cent below October 2019. Delivery accounted for 12.3 per cent of sales among restaurant groups over the month, up from 10.4 per cent in September and the pre-lockdown level of 5.9 per cent in February.

Regionally, London continued to struggle. Total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 were down 39.5 per cent, compared to 32.1 per cent in September, with collective like-for-like sales in those sites open down 35 per cent. Outside the M25 the market saw like-for-like sales down 26.8 per cent and total sales down 31.9 per cent.

Bar groups had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 52.6 per cent and total sales down 56.9 per cent.

At the end of October, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down -26.2 per cent on the previous 12 months, with total sales down -37.9 per cent.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality, RSM, said “It is impossible to put a positive gloss on such depressing results in the last full month of trading prior to England’s second lockdown. This week’s news about an imminent vaccine is just the fillip the sector needs as operators turn their focus to the operational challenges of successfully re-opening their businesses on 3 December for the truncated, but ever more crucial, festive trading period. I’m amazed at the creativity shown by operators to stay in business during lockdown and I urge consumers to support their local pubs and restaurants over the coming weeks. A whole business eco-system is reliant on their support - from suppliers to operators and landlords.”

David Coffer, Chairman, The Coffer Group, said, “If anything, October’s figures were better than many feared. The pressures on the hospitality sector to keep businesses going during lockdown is immense and the industry has been as creative as possible. Crucially, we will be concerned about how the public will react to the lifting of the restrictions in December - will their eating and drinking habits have culturally changed? The post lockdown figures especially over Christmas are sadly or joyfully going to be the acid test for the Industry. We expect it will be a truly seismic period with far reaching effects.”

A total of 56 companies, with between them 9,295 sites open for business, provided data to the October Tracker.

Participating companies receive a fuller detailed breakdown of monthly trading. To join the cohort, contact Andrew Dean,


About Coffer Peach Business Tracker

CGA collected sales figures directly from 56 out of the 59 leading companies participating. Participants include: Amber Taverns, Azzurri Group (Ask Italian, Zizzi), Banana Tree Restaurants, Beds and Bars Ltd, Big Table Group (Bella Italia, Las Iguanas), Bills Restaurants, BrewDog plc, Buzzworks Holdings Group, Byron, City District Enterprise (Fazenda), Coaching Inn Group, Cote Restaurants, Deltic Group Ltd, Dominion Hospitality, Drake & Morgan, Fuller Smith & Turner, Gaucho Grill, Giggling Squid, Greene King (Chef & Brewer, Hungry Horse, Flaming Grill), Gusto, Hall & Woodhouse, Hawthorn Leisure, Honest Burgers, Laine Pub Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Loungers, Marston's, McMullen & Sons Ltd, Mitchells & Butlers (Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter, All Bar One), Mowgli, Nando’s Restaurants, New World Trading Co, Oakman Inns, Peach Pubs, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut UK, Prezzo, Punch Pub Co, Restaurant Group (Frankie & Bennys, Chiquitos, Brunning & Price), Revolution Bars, Rileys, Rosa’s Thai, Snug Bar, St Austell, Star Pubs & Bars, Stonegate Pub Co (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’, Walkabout, Bermondsey Pub Company), TGI Fridays UK, The Alchemist, True North Brew Co, Upham Pub Company, Various Eateries (Strada, Coppa Club), Wadworth & Co Ltd, Wagamama, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), YO! Sushi and Youngs.

For all press enquiries: 

Peter Martin, Vice President, CGA
Phone: 07889 209 896

Claudia Cronshaw, Director, Communications, The Coffer Group
Phone: 07870 208 833

Alison Robb, PR Manager, RSM Press Office
Phone: 07484 021 206