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Wed 19th Jan 2022 - December sales down 11% on pre-pandemic levels for managed restaurants, pub and bars
December sales down 11% on pre-pandemic levels for managed restaurants, pub and bars: The UK’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups suffered a double-digit drop on sales from pre-pandemic levels in December after widespread cancellations of Christmas celebrations, the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker has revealed. The Tracker, produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, shows group total sales in the last month of 2021 were down by 11% on December 2019. This follows four successive months of 2021-on-2019 growth and shows the damaging impact of the Omicron variant on the hospitality sector, as many consumers opted to stay at home in the run-up to Christmas. The Tracker indicates it was a tougher Christmas for managed pubs and bars, where sales were down by 12% and 19% respectively, than for restaurants, where they were down by 8%. It also highlights a particularly difficult month for London, with sales down by 19% within the M25 – more than twice as big as the drop of 8% beyond the M25. Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “These figures show the hugely damaging impact of consumers’ anxiety and restrictions on trading at what should have been the busiest time of year. Restaurant groups in particular did well to shore up sales as much as they did, but on top of rising costs, supply problems and staff challenges, the difficult December leaves many businesses without the buffer of cash they would normally rely on in January. Demand for eating and drinking out remains strong, but the sector needs support on tax and other pressures if it is to help power the UK’s economic recovery when covid-19 restrictions finally ease.” David Coffer, chairman at Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The results are not surprising. If anything, many anticipated worse. The pre-Christmas growth was euphoric and in stark contrast to the major drop-off in the most important trading months of the year. The industry lives in hope that the impending lifting of restrictions, especially working from home, will see a spike in demand in the early part of the year. The industry is desperately in need of a cash injection and there are many, no doubt, who will be on the brink of closure as a result of the impact of Omicron. The spectre of debt in so many forms is ever becoming a reality, and we may well see an abundance of casualties throughout the industry as a result. London was a virtual desert throughout the seasonal period, the big question is whether the culture of central city leisure has changed irreversibly – only time will tell.”

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