Sales in managed pubs were down by 1% over the extended Easter weekend (14-17 April) but restaurants were hit much harder, suffering a 9.1% drop compared to performance during the same weekend in 2016.
Peter Martin, vice-president of CGA Peach, which produces the tracker in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM, said: “It was not a good time for eating out, as within the pub figures food-led businesses were down more than their drink-led competitors, which actually saw a slight increase in trade.
"Managed pubs are trading slightly better than restaurant chains this year so far. The longer-term trend sees managed pub group like-for-like sales running at 1% up for the 12 months to the end of March, while the overall [eating-out] market was up 0.8%."
He pointed to hot weather over the long weekend as a contributing factor as well as Easter falling late this year compared to last year when it was in March. And added that there would be concern within the eating-out market about whether this decline in sales was a sign of consumers reducing their spending.
“Easter last year was wet and this year the weather was much better, so that would have favoured pubs over restaurants - the reverse was true last year. A late Easter also meant that some school holidays fell before the bank holiday weekend, meaning some children will have gone back to school on Tuesday. This may have curtailed the urge for families to go out.”
Martin said that operators will hope that total April sales will hold up even though Easter was disappointing.