The British public is continuing to go out to eat and drink — and the country's biggest pub and restaurant chains are benefiting.
Top pub, bar and casual dining chains saw like-for-like sales rise 1% in September on last year, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
The Tracker, which monitors sales performance across 17 major managed pub and restaurant operators, including Mitchells & Butlers, Whitbread, Pizza Hut, Punch Pub Co, Gondola and Tragus, showed total sales were up 2.3% on last September and up 15.1% on the previous month of August.
The September result follows a generally bright summer for the chains. Tracker figures showed like-for-likes ahead +1.5% in August, up +1.9% in July and +1.4% in June, against the same months in 2009.
"These latest figures reflect the competitive positioning of the larger groups, often running branded business, and the willingness of the public to continue to go out and have a good time, whether eating or drinking," said Peach Factory's Peter Martin.
But Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, part of the Coffer Group, warned: "The October spending review and threat of public service unemployment will really test the sector in the run up to Christmas."
Richard Hathaway, head of Travel, Leisure and Tourism at KPMG stressed businesses must "remain focused with sustained cost management programmes, and effective marketing promotions during this traditionally quiet period".
Jonathan Leinster, head of European leisure and tobacco research, at UBS Investment Bank, added: "As autumn menus were introduced in 2009, many operators increased prices ahead of the January 2010 VAT rise. We expect this will occur again, but comparisons to last year's Q4 average of +2.3% could prove difficult."