The Tracker, produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, shows total sales were 5% ahead of August 2019.
It is the first month of year-on-year growth since hospitality reopened from mid-April. Total sales were also 35% up on August 2020, when the majority of venues were open after Britain’s first lockdown and the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative was running.
Pubs recorded 3% growth, with pub restaurants (up 6%) faring better than drink-led sites (up 1%). Bars enjoyed a surge in sales following the easing of restrictions on the late-night sector, finishing August 21% up on 2019.
For the fourth month in a row, managed restaurant groups outperformed the market, with total sales up by 7% on August 2019.
The Coffer CGA Business Tracker said businesses benefited from a first full month of restriction-free trading in August, as well as the easing of safety concerns among diners and drinkers.
Widespread ‘staycations’ during the school holidays contributed to a strong August for regions beyond London, with sales outside the M25 up by 9%. However, the tracker revealed that London continued to be impacted by the absence of many office workers and tourists, with sales within the M25 were down by 7% on August 2019.
Over the last year the impact of Covid-19 is still impacting the sector as rolling 12-month sales to the end of August 2021 were down by 15% on the 12 months to August 2020, which included the UK’s first national lockdown.
Impressive month of recovery
Karl Chessell, director, hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said: “August was another impressive month of recovery for managed groups from the havoc wreaked by Covid-19. It is a particularly impressive performance given the severe operational pressures that many businesses are working under, including staff shortages, supply problems and rising costs. Sales growth is testament to the resilience and adaptability of the hospitality industry and consumers’ ongoing enthusiasm for restaurants, pubs and bars.
David Coffer, chairman at Coffer Corporate Leisure, warned of the major challenges ahead.
“However, we should be wary of the major challenges which lay ahead; shortage of food and drink and labour, the end of furlough and the statutory demands for repayment of loans, rates, VAT and now higher national insurance contributions," he said.
"There is also the threat of further lockdown and Covid controls as well the spectre of the end of the rental moratorium. The next few months will prove the depth of these challenges, but the undoubted ability of the sector to cope as ever.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added that with many operators carrying huge debt burdens, an opportunity to replenish depleted cash reserves will be a "huge relief and hopefully the start of a more sustained recovery.”