Festive period boosts UK on-trade sales

21st January, 2020 by Owen Bellwood

Pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK increased sales by 2.5% over Christmas and New Year with drinks-led venues outpacing food-led outlets.

Drinks-led venues boosted sales across the on-trade over the 2019 festive period

During the six weeks up to and covering the festive period, food and drink spending increased in the UK on-trade, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

“It has been a challenging year for the eating- and drinking-out market, so these figures will be a welcome boost for operators. Christmas and New Year is a vital time for the industry, so to see positive growth is good news,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

According to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, restaurant chains saw a 2.3% uplift in like-for-like sales and managed pub and bar groups rose 2.7% over 2018.

The report found that drinks-led venues “outdid their food-led counterparts” and drink sales across the managed pub sector were up 2.4%. During the same period, food sales in the sector rose 2.2%.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Operators will be celebrating a festive gift that ends a challenging year on a welcome high. Like-for-likes improved for both restaurants and wet-led businesses despite strong performance in the same period last year on top of the heavy rain and the political uncertainty affecting much of December.

“With consumer confidence finally improving, brands will look to carry this sales momentum into the New Year by capitalising on the trends for Veganuary and alcohol alternative drinks without resorting to heavy discounting.”

Total sales over the six-week festive period, including the effect of new openings since this time last year, grew 5.4% compared to the same period in 2018.

Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “There is a post-election sense of optimism, and food and drink consumers have driven the first wave of this during the pre-Christmas period.

“This year, we are starting to see cautious confidence in the market although expect that any uplift in trade and consumer confidence will be steady rather than spectacular. We expect market activity in 2020 to be an increase on 2019 levels.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK on-trade collects and analyses data from 57 operating groups, with a combined turnover of more than £11 billion (US$14bn).

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