The pub sector saw positive growth over the festive trading period with collective like-for-like sales growing by 2.5%, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Both food and drink spend increased compared to the same six-week period that covered Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve in 2018.
CGA director Karl Chessell said: “It has been a challenging year for the eating and drinking-out market, so these figures will be a welcome boost for operators. Christmas and new year is a vital time for the industry, so to see positive growth is good news.”
Growth was driven by drink-led businesses with wet sales across the managed pub sector up 2.4% and food sales up 2.2%.
CGA said its tracker – which is produced in partnership between CGA, The Coffer Group and RSM – shows that while people were hesitant to shop on the high street at the end of last year they did not have the same reservations with celebrating at pubs.
Reasons to go out
Chessell added: “These results underline the fact that the public still wants to go out to enjoy themselves over the holiday period, but also emphasise how important this time of year is to the health of the market, and that operators have to keep creating good reasons for people to go out.”
Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan echoed sector conclusions that there had been an uplift in consumer confidence following the general election, ameliorating a tough year of political uncertainty subduing trade.
He said: “There is a post-election sense of optimism, and food and drink consumers have driven the first wave of this during the pre-Christmas period.
“This year, we are starting to see cautious confidence in the market although expect that any uplift in trade and consumer confidence will be steady rather than spectacular. We expect market activity in 2020 to see an increase on 2019 levels.”
The City Pub Group boss Clive Watson said he was hopeful consumer confidence would improve in the coming months but he did not think “we are off to the races just yet”.
Overall, managed pub and bar groups increased their like-for-like sales by 2.7% in like-for-like sales on 2018.
Total sales over the Christmas period, which include the impact of new site openings since that time last year, were ahead 5.4% compared to the same period in 2018.