Britain’s bar chain sales halved in October

16th November, 2020 by Nicola Carruthers

Sales in Britain’s managed bar groups fell by 56.9% last month due to coronavirus restrictions on trading, according to new data from CGA.

The Alchemist in Leeds

The Coffer Peach Business Tracker, produced by CGA, The Coffer Group and RSM, found total sales across Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups in October declined by 33.9%, compared to the same month last year. In September, sales for these venues were 20.3% below 2019 levels and in August, sales fell 12.2%.

The UK government introduced a 10pm curfew in England on 24 September. Similar measures were also announced in Scotland and Wales.

Venues were also affected by the government’s three-tier system of restrictions in England, which saw on-trade venues located in the highest tier shut unless they were serving food. Bars in England were then forced to shut on 5 November until 2 December under new coronavirus measures.

Bar groups were impacted the most by the restrictions, according to the latest data, but drinks-led pubs also saw total sales drop 37.6% in the same month. Meanwhile, food-led pubs and pub restaurants were down by 28.9%. Restaurant groups saw total sales drop by 29.6% in October.

“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. “What’s crystal clear is that even before [the] total lockdown in England, the imposition of tier two and three 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.”

London was highly impacted by the restrictions, with managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 down by 39.5% last month, compared to 32.1% in September. Outside of the M25, total sales in on-trade venues fell by 31.9% in October.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at 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. [Last] 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 reopening their businesses on 3 December for the truncated, but ever more crucial, festive trading period.”

A total of 56 on-trade chains provided data for the October tracker, including The Alchemist, Stonegate, Revolution, Brewdog and Drake & Morgan.

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