August sales return to 2019 levels for food-led groups

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sales boost: CGA figures show that food-led pub groups saw sales return to August 2019 levels last month
Sales boost: CGA figures show that food-led pub groups saw sales return to August 2019 levels last month

Related tags: Food, Cga, Branding + marketing, Bar, Coronavirus, Drinks

Food-led managed pub groups saw collective like-for-like sales return to 2019 levels last month amid the Government's discount meals initiative.

Figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker found like-for-like sales in the 85% of businesses that have reopened came out flat, meaning their sales volumes matched those seen at the same point in 2019.

Total sales across the broader hospitality sector were still 12.2% below last year’s levels given the number of venues still closed, however.

Food-led pubs and pub restaurants benefited from the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, with collective like-for-likes up 5.3% on August 2019 and total sales down just 1.2%. 

Wet pubs faced a tougher trading situation with like-for-likes down 11% and total sales down 16.3%. 

What’s more, bar groups, which have just 74% of their sites trading, reported the worst performance, with like-for-like sales down 27.6% and total sales down 37%.

Consumer confidence

Food sales were up 12% across the managed pub market as a whole, with drink sales down 15.3% on August 2019.

More than 100m meals were claimed in the discount scheme, according to the Treasury.

Venues in London struggled to rebuild trade despite the scheme, with like-for-likes across pubs, bars and restaurants down 13.4%, and total sales down 28.1%.

Karl Chessell, director of CGA, which produces the Tracker, said: “To get back to last year’s sales levels in those sites that were able to trade is some achievement just a month after the industry started to reopen, and credit has to go to the Government-backed discount scheme that attracted so many people back out to eat, plus the cut in VAT on food. 

“But of course not all parts of the market benefited, and there will also be concern about what the Government’s new legally-enforced restrictions will have on consumer confidence in the weeks ahead."

Food winner

Chessell continued: “Restaurants have had a good month, and although more were open – 65% against only 36% of group-owned sites in July - it is unclear how many of those still shuttered will eventually trade again, certainly under current ownership, and whether they have missed the boat?” 

“While in July pubs tended to have the best of the early weeks of reopening, food was undoubtedly the winner last month. We will have to see if that starts to balance out again in September and if the momentum of Eat Out can be maintained with the Government’s new legal restrictions in force,” he said. 

At the end of August, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down 21% on the previous 12 months, with total sales down 31.9%.

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