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Fri 11th Jun 2021 - Britain’s managed pub and restaurant sales slip 26% in May against 2019 levels as restrictions continue
Britain’s managed pub and restaurant sales slip 26% in May against 2019 levels as restrictions continue: Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups recorded a 26% drop in total sales in May from the same month in 2019, the new edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker has revealed. The figure encompasses two full weeks of inside service for hospitality operators from 17 May, preceded by a fortnight of outdoor-only trading. The freedom to serve indoors gave a boost to the managed restaurant sector, where total sales were down 13% on May 2019. However, ongoing social distancing restrictions held down pubs’ sales at 34% below 2019’s levels, despite a sunny bank holiday weekend helping them to end May strongly. Bars were the weakest segment for the second month in a row, with total sales down 38%. On a like-for-like sales basis, groups recorded a 15% drop in May 2021 from May 2019 – a modest improvement on April’s figure of minus 26%. Restaurants were down only 6%, but pubs (down 22%) and bars (down 25%) again lagged behind on this measure. While the return of inside service has led to the reopening of the majority of restaurants, pubs and bars, a significant number remain closed. The Tracker showed rolling 12-month sales to the end of May were 48% below the previous 12 months. “May brought a solid, if unspectacular, return to inside trading for managed restaurants, pubs and bars,” said Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. “While the long-term outlook for the sector remains good, so much now hinges on whether the government sticks to its roadmap to recovery. Any delay to the removal of restrictions from 21 June would badly set back hospitality’s fragile recovery just as it starts.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The costs of compliance are higher notwithstanding the pressure on labour costs and until we see restrictions lifted, we will see closures increasing. The good news is that the public have shown they want to return to hospitality in increasing numbers and the future, once restrictions have gone, looks very positive.”

UKHospitality joins Labour party’s call for economic support if ‘unlocking’ is delayed: UKHospitality has joined the Labour party’s call on the government for more economic help if “unlocking” restrictions on 21 June should be delayed. Labour warned of a “perfect summer storm” and that “if there are any changes to the 21 June ‘unlocking’ date as a result of this government’s failure, it must be paired with details of economic measures to support affected businesses and industries”. The opposition party said the “pinch points” include quarterly rent being due on 23 June, the ban on commercial rent evictions ending on 30 June, and that employers must start contributing 10% to furlough costs and 100% business rates relief tapers off to 67% business rates relief both on 1 July. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses cannot continue to operate under conditions that leave them unable to trade profitably and so we echo the importance of government support should there be any delay to the complete lifting of restrictions on 21 July. If government decides it has to keep some restrictions in place after this date then it must prioritise those that do the least damage to business and commit to further supporting the sector. Among other measures, the government must postpone business rates payments until at least October and extend the rent moratorium while a long-term solution is found. Businesses need a swift, publicly stated commitment that such support will be in place in the event of any delays, giving them much-needed reassurance after more than 15 months of closure and severely disrupted trading. Hospitality is desperate to get back to what it does best and can play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK, but only if it is given the proper support.”

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