, UK

Restaurants, pubs’ like-for-like sales up 2% in April but cost pressures stunt growth 

London still lags pre-COVID-19 trading, whilst sales up 3% beyond the M25.

Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups recorded 2% in like-for-like sales growth in April 2022, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker revealed.
 
In comparison with April 2019, this means the Tracker—produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM—is in growth for the third month in a row, following increases of 3% and 4% in February and March.

But with compound inflation since early 2019 far exceeding 2%, groups’ real-terms sales are still well below pre-COVID-19 levels.
 
Restaurants performed the strongest of the Tracker’s three sectors in April, with like-for-like sales growth of 5% from April 2019. Bars were close behind at 4% whilst pubs were exactly flat.
 
Continuing the pattern seen since hospitality reopened after lockdown a year ago, trading in London lagged well behind the rest of the country in April. Groups’ like-for-like sales inside the M25 were down by 2% on 2019 whilst regions beyond the M25 recorded growth of 3%.
 
Karl Chessell, director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “A third successive month of like-for-like sales growth shows managed restaurants, pubs and bars continue to build back after a very tough two years. However, any modest rises at the moment are being swallowed up by high inflation, and the Tracker’s dip from March to April suggests soaring prices might be starting to squeeze consumers’ spending.”

David Coffer, chairman at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The major challenges for hospitality are yet to come. Pressure to repay commercial banking debt and statutory debt including rates, NIC, PAYE and VAT will be unsurmountable for many businesses, many of whom may disappear. Our sector and indeed many others are in desperate need of further Governmental support.”
 
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Whilst operators might ordinarily welcome an increase in like-for-like sales, much of this is being driven by menu price rises and therefore masks some early signs of falling demand resulting from the cost of living crisis. As more customers are forced to cut back on discretionary spending, the industry faces a double whammy of lower income and higher costs.” 

CGA collected sales figures directly from 61 companies for the April edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.

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