The monthly report, which collects sales data from leading pub operators, said like-for-like sales were up slightly in May.
“Away from London, the pub market remains essentially flat, and what growth there is in the market is coming almost exclusively from food sales. Nationally, food sales in pubs were up 4.5% in May, against a 0.9% decline in drinks sales,” it stated.
MasterChef winner Anton Piotrowski, who runs the Michelin-starred Treby Arms, in Sparkwell, Devon, echoed the importance of food for pubs outside the capital, but added that operators still need to think carefully about their drinks offer.
He told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser: “Food is absolutely the way forward. Being outside of London can actually be a huge advantage when it comes to seasonality and the quality of ingredients — for example, in Devon we have access to amazing fish.
“However, you have to think about your drinks, particularly non-alcoholic drinks in rural areas where people drive. It’s not enough to have one brand in the fridge. You need a good range of juices and things like strawberry-infused lemonade to keep things fresh.”
The report also revealed that prices and rents for operators are at a record high in all areas of the UK, and described the current interest in eating out as ‘unprecedented.’