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Wed 18th Jan 2023 - Hospitality celebrates best December in three years but real terms sales lag behind pre-covid
Hospitality celebrates best December in three years but real terms sales lag behind pre-covid: Britain’s leading managed pub, bar and restaurant groups enjoyed their best December trading in three years, the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker reveals, but sales remain well below pre-covid levels in real terms. The Tracker – produced by CGA by NielsenIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK – shows like-for-like December sales were 15.0% ahead of December 2021, when festive trading was hit by concerns about the Omicron variant. However, sales were only 2.0% ahead of December 2019, and after adjustments for double-digit inflation, they are significantly behind. It was a particularly strong Christmas for pubs, where like-for-like sales finished 19.0% ahead of December 2021 as consumers’ concerns about covid eased and the football World Cup drove fans into venues. Year-on-year growth was more modest in restaurants at 9.1%, while sales in the bars segment were up 11.9%. The Tracker highlights the ongoing recovery of London’s hospitality sector after covid. December sales within the M25 were 22.8% ahead of 2021, when Omicron curtailed parties and celebrations in pubs, bars and restaurants. This is sharper year-on-year growth than outside the M25, where sales were up 12.9% year-on-year. Karl Chessell, director hospitality operators and food EMEA at CGA by NielsenIQ, said: “After two bleak Decembers, solid Christmas trading helped many pub, bar and restaurant groups to end 2022 on a high. However, it is clear that sales remain well behind pre-covid levels in real terms, and fragile consumer confidence and rail strikes made for tough trading conditions. With the costs of energy, food and other key costs continuing to soar, operators’ sales and profit margins are under severe pressure as we move into 2023, and with venues weakened by nearly three years of disruption, targeted government support is urgently needed to protect businesses and jobs.” Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Train strikes affected trade on key trading days in December, but despite disruptions, trading was solid and many operators especially pubs and bars traded better than expected. Cost pressures remains challenging but there is some optimism amongst many operators.”

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