Drink-led pubs benefited most from the good weather across the weekend of Friday 19 April to Monday 22 April with like-for-like sales up 10.9% on last year, the Coffer Peach Business Tracker has revealed.
It also discovered the overall eating and drinking-out market was down by 3.6% during the four-day weekend because, in contrast to pubs, restaurant chains saw collective like-for-like sales drop 18.6% against 2018 Easter trading.
CGA director Karl Chessell said: “You simply can’t escape the fact the weather always has a major influence on the fortunes of the pub and restaurant sector and what is good for pubs is rarely good for restaurants. These Easter figures just underline that reality.
“The Easter weekend last year, which fell in March rather than April, was good for trade overall – and particularly restaurants – because, although the weather wasn’t stunning, the holiday weekend came in the aftermath of the snow that accompanied the Beast from the East.
“There was plenty of pent-up demand from people wanting to get out, which helped boost sales across the sector by almost 6% against Easter 2017 so, although this Easter may have been a bit of a disappointment overall, it was still better than two years ago.”
Low consumer confidence
The overall drop in sales is down to low consumer confidence, according to Coffer Corporate Leisure MD Mark Sheehan
He said: “The Easter numbers are difficult to measure because of the contrasting weather year on year and a later Easter.
“The April numbers overall though were down and show the pressure the hospitality sector is under – like many other sectors relying on consumer confidence.
“Pubs trade well when consumer confidence is low but the restaurant sector is also affected by the retail woes we are seeing. This could be a difficult summer while we have no resolution to Brexit.”
RSM head of leisure and hospitality Paul Newman outlined the issues that have impacted the hospitality sector.
He said: “It is no surprise Brits sought their local beer garden to escape the record temperatures over the Easter weekend.
“While the weather and Brexit delay seem to have brought some short-term relief for the UK pub industry, the challenges affecting the casual-dining sector show no such let-up.
“Fierce competition from new openings continue to hit top-line growth while additional costs from increased minimum wage and pension contributions bite into margins.
“The eating and drinking-out sector desperately needs a sustained run of positive sales growth just to stand still.”
When broken down into regions, London saw a drop in like-for-like trading, down by 0.7% on last April, while there was a rise of 1.7% on a like-for-like basis for the month outside the M25.
Chessell added: “Usually London does well over holiday periods but it appears the contribution of climate change protests, closed railway stations and people heading out of town to seek the sun has taken its toll on London-based operators.”
However, when looking at the underlying trends, the capital still outperforms the rest of the country with market like-for-like sales overall up 1.7% for the 12 months to the end of April, with London running at 2.5% ahead and outside the city up 1.5%.
Total sales across the 50 companies in the tracker, which include the impact of net new openings since this time last year, were ahead by 4% compared to last April, showing that although openings have slowed, they have not stopped.