Celebrations and early Easter holiday lift hospitality groups to 5.2% growth in March

18 April 2024

Britain’s top hospitality groups achieved above-inflation like-for-like sales growth of 5.2% in March 2024, the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals.

Many operators will have enjoyed the boost to trading that events such as Mother’s Day and St Patrick’s Day brought, but the high growth metrics seen in the Tracker have been aided by early Easter Bank Holiday revenues falling into March 2024, while last year Easter trading fell into April 2023.

The Tracker—produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK—shows celebrations delivered particularly strong growth for the managed pub sector, where like-for-like sales were up by 7.2% in March. Growth was softer for restaurants at 3.4%, and the On The Go segment has seen 5.2% decline.

Whilst bars still recorded a decline of 0.5% in March, this is somewhat of an improvement from the 13.6% and 7.4% declines in January and February respectively, showing the impact the early Bank Holiday weekend celebrations and holidays has had on the hospitality sector this month.

For the first month since November, restaurant, pub and bar groups achieved higher growth outside London than within the capital. March sales inside the M25 were 4.0% ahead of last year, but ahead by 5.7% beyond it.

Saxon Moseley, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: '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.'

Karl Chessell, director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA 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.'

CGA by NIQ collected sales figures directly from 105 leading managed groups for March’s edition of the CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker, which provides authoritative monthly insights into Britain’s restaurant, pub and bar sales. Companies participating in the Tracker receive a fuller breakdown of trading that helps to benchmark performance and understand market trends. To join the cohort, contact Andy Dean at andy.dean@nielseniq.com

Participants in the CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker: Adventure Bars, Adventure Leisure Ltd, All Star Lanes, Amber Taverns, Anglian Country Inns, Arc Inspirations, Azzurri Group (Ask Italian, Coco di Mama, Zizzi), Ballie Ballerson, Banana Tree Restaurants, Barburrito, Beds and Bars, Big Table Group (Bella Italia, Chiquito, Frankie & Benny’s, Las Iguanas), Bill’s Restaurants, Boxpark, BrewDog, Burger & Lobster, Buzzworks Holdings Group, Byron, Chopstix, Coaching Inn Group Ltd, Comptoir Group Plc, Cote Restaurants, Creams Café, Darwin & Wallace, Dishoom, Five Guys, Fortnum & Mason, Fuller Smith & Turner, Gaucho Grill, Giggling Squid, Greene King (Chef & Brewer, Hungry Horse, Flaming Grill), Gusto Restaurants, Hall & Woodhouse, Hawthorn Leisure, Heartwood Collection, Honest Burgers, HOP Vietnamese, Individual Restaurants, Island Poké, Junkyard Golf Club, Kibou, Laine Pub Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Liberation, Lina Stores, Loungers, Lucky Voice, Marston’s, McMullen & Sons Ltd, Mildreds, Mission Mars, Mitchells & Butlers (Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter, All Bar One), MJMK Restaurants, Mojo Bar, Mowgli, Nando’s Restaurants, New World Trading Company, North Brewing Co, Oakman Inns, Parogon Pub Group, Peach Pubs, Pho, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut UK, Portobello Starboard Ltd, Prezzo, Punch Pub Co, Pure, Rekom UK, Revolution Bars, Rick Stein Restaurants, Riley’s, Rosa’s Thai, Roxy Leisure, San Carlo, Shepherd Neame, Simmons Bars Group, Snug Bar, Southern Wind Group (Fazenda), St Austell, Star Pubs & Bars, State of Play Hospitality, Stonegate Pub Co (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’, Walkabout, Bermondsey Pub Company), Tasty Plc, TGI Fridays UK, The Alchemist, The Restaurant Group, Thunderbird Fried Chicken, Tonkotsu, Tortilla, True North Brew Co, Upham Pub Co, Various Eateries (Strada, Coppa Club), Village Hotels, Wagamama, Wasabi, Wells & Co, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), Wingstop, YO! Sushi and Young’s.

About CGA by NIQ

CGA by NIQ provides definitive On Premise consumer intelligence that reveals new pathways to growth for the world’s most successful food and drink brands. With more than 30 years of best-in-class research, data, and analytics, CGA by NIQ provides the Full View(TM).

CGA by NIQ works with food and beverage suppliers, consumer brand owners, wholesalers, government entities, pubs, bars, and restaurants to protect and shape the future of the On Premise experience. Using the most complete and clear understanding of measurement and insights, CGA by NIQ provides a competitive edge to guide winning strategies for On Premise businesses.

NIQ was founded in 1923 and is an Advent International portfolio company. For more information, visit www.NIQ.com or www.cgastrategy.com.

Saxon Mosely
Saxon Moseley
Partner, Head of leisure and hospitality
Saxon Mosely
Saxon Moseley
Partner, Head of leisure and hospitality