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Fri 5th May 2023 - Hospitality drives city centre growth after robust first quarter but inflation curbs real-terms growth
Hospitality drives city centre growth after robust first quarter but inflation curbs real-terms growth: Pubs, restaurants and bars in Britain’s biggest cities achieved solid year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2023, with London’s revival continuing and Edinburgh topping the list of most vibrant cities. The new “Top Cities” report from CGA by NIQ and Wireless Social shows sales in each of Britain’s ten biggest cities were higher than the first quarter of 2022, while device check-ins continue to build back towards pre-covid levels. However, the year-on-year comparisons benefit from weak trading in early 2022, when concerns about Omicron kept many consumers away from city venues. Growth has also been impacted by high inflation, which means trading for many operators remains well behind last year’s levels in real terms. The report combines sales data from CGA by NIQ with check-in data from Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social to produce a “vibrancy” ranking of the ten cities in the first quarter. It is led by Edinburgh, where sales and log-ins have both surged back since the end of covid restrictions. London, which was hit hard by covid lockdowns, soared to second on the list after welcoming back many office workers and visitors over the first quarter. Elsewhere in the rankings, third-placed Sheffield is the best performing city in the north of England, while Glasgow was in fourth. At the other end of the table are Leeds, Birmingham and Liverpool. CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “Consumers remain very keen to visit city centre pubs, bars and restaurants, despite the squeeze on their discretionary spending. While high inflation continues to make trading conditions difficult, hospitality is a resilient and dynamic sector that is helping to breathe life back into cities’ economies after the turmoil of the pandemic. It deserves targeted and sustained support from government to sustain hard-working businesses through the costs crisis.” Julian Ross, founder and chief executive of Wireless Social, added: “Footfall and sales remain strong in major hubs all over the UK, especially across competitive socialising and more experience-led concepts that have emerged and blossomed since the pandemic. However, the market is still fraught with economic obstacles that are continuing to pose a serious threat to the survival of many businesses. Without the requisite support, the road ahead is set to be extremely rocky for our sector.”

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