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Wed 16th Jan 2019 - Boost for eating and drinking-out market as Christmas and New Year like-for-likes rise 4.1%
Boost for eating and drinking-out market as Christmas and New Year like-for-likes rise 4.1%: While the retail sector struggled, Britain’s managed pub and restaurant companies had cause to celebrate during the six-week Christmas and New Year period with collective like-for-like sales up 4.1% on 2017, according to the latest figures from Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Pub and restaurant operators both saw positive sales growth during the festive season, with pubs enjoying collective like-for-likes up 5.1% against a 2.4% increase for restaurants. London benefited most, with like-for-likes over the six weeks to 6 January up 5.0% compared with 3.8% outside the M25. Drink sales were the major driver of growth in pubs, up 6.4% on the corresponding period last year, compared with a 3.6% rise in food sales. Underlying annual like-for-like growth for the Tracker cohort, which represents large and small groups, was running at 1.0% for the 12 months up to the end of 2018, up from 0.7% at the end of November. Total sales over the six-week festive period, which include the effect of new openings since this time last year across the 49 companies in the seasonal Tracker cohort, were ahead 7.1% compared with the same period in 2017. “This is in stark contrast to the gloom hanging over retail, which according to the British Retail Consortium suffered its worst Christmas for a decade with zero sales growth,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. “What these Tracker figures suggest is consumers are being more selective about where they spend their money and are looking for memorable experiences – like going out for a meal or drink with family or friends over Christmas – rather than just buying ‘things’. Premiumisation will be a big part of that and trading up appears to have helped restaurants too, as the number of covers served rose only 1.3% from last year. What will be most encouraging for these pub and restaurant groups is trading was positive throughout December following a 1.5% sales uplift in November,” Chessell added. “The eating and drinking-out sectors had an excellent trading period in their busiest time of the year,” said Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure. “Consumers escaped the political turmoil and headed for pubs and restaurants to escape the tedium. Pre-booked sales in particular were strong and the months ahead are going to be tough but, at this crucial time, trading was robust.”

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