Campaigners hail Tax Parity Day a success

By Mark Wingett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Value added tax Managing director

A number of operators reported increased sales on Tax Parity Day on
A number of operators reported increased sales on Tax Parity Day on
Last Wednesday’s Tax Parity Day (25 September), which saw up to 15,000 outlets take part in a national day of action as part of the campaign to reduce VAT for the sector to 5%, helped increase sales for participating operators by up to 23%, while also raising awareness of the disparity between the zero rate for food in supermarkets and the 20% VAT rate for pubs and restaurants.

Amber Taverns reported a sales increase of between 10 to 23% on the day, Fuller’s saw a “significant uplift in the number of customers using its pubs”, while St Austell Brewery witnessed a 10% uplift in like-for-like food and drink sales on the day.

Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, said: “Tax Parity Day was an outstanding success in our pubs across the UK with approximately 20% more pints and meals sold on the day.”

Leading campaigner Jacques Borel said: “Customers in significant numbers were surprised at the disparity between the zero rate for food in supermarkets and 20% VAT rate for pubs and restaurants. This injustice will be the major angle of the campaign going forward.

"Many operators who took part in the day reported a large uplift in sales and report that it was a wonderful way to show customers the benefits to them of our campaign goals."


Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, said: “All Fuller’s managed houses took part in Tax Parity Day and we were delighted to see a significant uplift in the number of customers using our pubs. We believe it goes to show that a reduction in the disparity in VAT levels between supermarkets and our sector would encourage new customers to socialise in pubs and restaurants. This would not only be beneficial for the economy but also, in the long-term, stimulate additional employment.”

St Austell

James Staughton, managing director, St Austell Brewery: “The campaign was successful in highlighting the fact that this is an important national challenge and yet is also a great opportunity. But it has also raised the fact that this is a significant issue for the South West as well, which is so reliant on tourism and hospitality.

"In our own pubs, we witnessed a 10% uplift in like-for-like food and drink sales, which demonstrates that a cut in VAT for the industry can bring more people into pubs and therefore generate economic activity and ultimately create jobs. We hope that the government looks at the issue of fair taxes for pubs and restaurants as matter of urgency. 10,000 pubs closing down in the last few years is a clear sign that the current tax regime is unsustainable."

Amber Taverns

Gary Roberts, operations director, Amber Taverns, said: “On the day, sales increased between 10 to 23% - the higher figure mainly in the north west sites that had the benefit of the televised Man United versus Liverpool cup game in the evening. The activity prompted discussion and retained customers a little longer. The exercise did create awareness among customers with many surprised that supermarkets do not pay the same level of VAT.”

Whiting & Hammond

Brian Whiting, managing director, Whiting & Hammond: “It was a very successful day. Our customers seemed generally interested and very surprised how much of their bill went in VAT - they loved the reduction for the day and I have no doubt this was a great exercise to do. All who engaged in the conversations with the crew at the pubs where on our side.”


Peter Furness-Smith, managing director, McMullen & Sons: “The day has been a huge success from the perspective of communicating to our staff and customers. We have had good initial feedback from our managers on the following points, which is encouraging: how over-taxed pubs are and how little support we get from our political classes; how VAT policy supports supermarkets and encourages irresponsible drinking; how many jobs for the young could be created by a significant cut in VAT for pubs.

"The impact on sales has been mixed. Those managers who have better promoted the day have showed good growth in Wednesday’s sales on both last year and last week. Overall sales on Wednesday were flat against last year but up on last Wednesday. It was definitely worth doing."

Hall & Woodhouse and Wadworth report

Hall & Woodhouse and Wadworth,  said sales were strong on Tax Parity Day.

David Hoare, Hall & Woodhouse retail director, said: “Net sales were 12% higher than the same day the previous week and 10% higher than the same day last year. We reduced all prices to represent a straight 5% VAT rate so that there was a clear message across the bar - as a consequence the uplift in net sales is nothing short of amazing."

Wadworth managed pubs saw an increase of 20% in like-for-like sales across the estate during VAT Tax Parity Day.

“It was a great success and fantastic that this initiative was so well supported by our customers and hope that this sends a clear message to Government,” said Emma Cottam, trade marketing manager. “The advertising activity across the estate paid off and all of the managers worked hard to get the information out there.”

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