The good weather provided rare cheer for the UK's struggling pub trade as Britons sought out beer gardens to soak up the sunshine last month.
It was a completely different story last year, however, after trading was hit severely by the effect from the ‘Beast from the East’, covering the UK in a blanket of snow.
But how did the pub and restaurant sector fare one year later?
Recovery in sales
Well, according to recent figures from CGA’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker, London – which was hit worse than the rest of the country last March – saw an increase in volume sales of 5.5% last month, with the rest of the country enjoying a 3.3% increase.
In addition, managed pubs were collectively up 4%, with restaurant groups, which have suffered the most in recent months, up 3.6%.
“March last year was a month to forget when snow brought much of the country to a standstill,” explained CGA director Karl Chessell.
“Both pubs and restaurants felt the effect with like-for-likes across the board down 3.1%, so these latest figures will be a relief as the sector regains lost ground.”
Chessell also suggested that the underlying trend for drink sales to outstrip food sales is continuing after both saw a recovery in sales over the month, with drinks volumes up by 5.7% versus a 2.7% increase in food.
“The big test, of course, will come with the results for April and the Easter holidays," added Chessell.
“Last Easter was a bumper time for the sector with sales ahead 5.9% on the holiday weekend the year before, boosted by the fact that many people didn’t go out in March.”
Saxon Moseley, senior manager at RSM, which partnered the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, dubbed the results as encouraging for the industry.
“With flowers blooming and the onset of British summertime, managed pub and restaurant groups bounced back this March with strong like-for-like performance unhindered by the poor weather conditions of last year’s ‘Beast from the East’,” said an elated Moseley.
“With the later Easter break in 2019 and the possibility of progress on Brexit, there is cautious optimism that April will see a loosening of consumer purse strings and further good news for the sector.”
Britain also made use of the good weather in February when a mini-heatwave towards the end of the month boosted pub trading.