The Coffer Peach Business Tracker found the combined sector of managed pubs and restaurants saw collective like-for-like sales rise by just 0.3% and it revealed drink-led pubs were the strongest performers, with London also outperforming the rest of Britain.
The capital saw overall like-for-like sales growth of 1% during February, compared to just 0.1% outside the M25. There was a significant difference between the performance of managed pubs and chain restaurants in London, with pubs up 3% against a 2.2% sales drop for restaurants.
In the rest of the country, the difference between performance was less stark, with pubs’ like-for-like sales up 0.9% and restaurants down 1.2%.
CGA director Karl Chessell said: “The mini heatwave towards the end of the month certainly boosted pub trading and also helped restaurant sales, as people enjoyed the unseasonal sunshine, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to move the whole market much.
“The branded restaurant sector is still suffering from declining sales and despite a better end to the month, early February was generally poor for restaurants.
“While people will remember the sun, it was cold at the start of the month and school half-term holidays appear to have given no more of a boost to sales than they did last year.
“Even with the managed pub market food sales are under pressure. The trading uplift in February has essentially come from increased drink sales, which were up 3.5% against a 0.9% fall in food.”
Coffer Corporate Leisure MD Mark Sheehan was pessimistic about the future for the restaurant market.
He said: “There is no quick fix for the restaurant sector. Oversupply in some areas will mean we may continue to see negative numbers for the foreseeable future, especially within the M25 where competition is fiercest.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality partner at accounting company RSM, was as equally negative about the state of the restaurant sector.
He added: “While there is continued cause for optimism among Britain’s managed pubs, the expected pick-up for casual-dining – resulting from the closure of underperforming sites compared to a year ago – failed to materialise.
“The fact sales are continuing to fall is a huge challenge for the eating-out sector and underlines the fierce competition for discretionary spend on the high street as consumers tighten their purse strings in preparation for Brexit.”