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Fri 13th Nov 2020 - Christmas period to be ‘acid test’ for industry as tougher restrictions drive sales into reverse in October
Christmas period to be ‘acid test’ for industry as tougher restrictions drive pub and restaurant group sales into reverse in October: The Christmas period will be the “acid test” for the industry as the rollout of more regional covid-19 restrictions further depressed sales in Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups in October, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. With 83% of group-owned sites open, down from 88% in September, total sales across the managed sector were down 33.9% on the same month last year – a clear deterioration from September when sales were 20.3% below 2019 levels and August when they were just 12.2% down. All parts of the market performed worse than in September. Like-for-like sales in those businesses trading were 28.9% below October last year, compared with a 14.7% fall in September. Drink-led pubs saw total sales down 37.6% and like-for-likes down 35.3% on October last year. Corresponding figures in September were minus 22.7% and minus 21.1%. Food-led pubs and pub restaurants fared a little better, but still performed markedly worse than in September, 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 still saw total sales down 29.6%, and like-for-likes 19.5% below October 2019. Delivery accounted for 12.3% of sales among restaurant groups over the month, up from 10.4% in September and the pre-lockdown level of 5.9% in February. Regionally, London continued to struggle. Total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 were down 39.5%, compared with 32.1% in September, with collective like-for-like sales in those sites open down 35%. 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%. “What’s crystal clear is that even before 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,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. At the end of October, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down 26.2% on the previous 12 months, with total sales down 37.9%. The Coffer Group chairman David Coffer said: “The post lockdown figures, especially over Christmas, are sadly or joyfully going to be the acid test for the industry. We expect it will be a truly seismic period with far-reaching effects.”

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