TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, UK

Tougher restrictions depress October sales for pubs, restaurants

London continues to lag behind the rest of Britain.

More regional COVID restrictions further depressed sales in Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups in October, according to new data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show.

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

Like-for-like sales in those businesses trading were 28.9% below October last year, compared to a 14.7% 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 may 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.

Drink-led pubs saw total sales down 37.6% and like-for-likes down 35.3% in October last year. Corresponding figures in September were -22.7% and -21.1%. Food-led pubs and pub restaurants fared a little better with total sales down 28.9% and like-for-likes down 27.8%.

Across all managed pubs, food sales were down 24.5% with drink sales dropping 37.6% on the same time last year.

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

Looking at it regionally, London continued to struggle, with total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 were down 39.5%, compared to 32.1% in September, with collective like-for-like sales in those sites open down 35.0%.

Outside the M25, the market saw like-for-like sales down 26.8% and total sales down 31.9%. Bar groups had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 52.6% and total sales down 56.9%.

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

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