Managed pubs, bars and restaurants strong in September but challenges continue

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Strong September: Sales boosted in restaurants, bars and pubs for second year running despite continuing challenges. (Getty/ Henrik Sorensen)
Strong September: Sales boosted in restaurants, bars and pubs for second year running despite continuing challenges. (Getty/ Henrik Sorensen)

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Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants saw their second successive month of year-on-year sales increases, up 8% on pre-pandemic levels of September 2019, and 42% from September 2020, according to the latest Coffer CGA Business tracker.

The boost in sales, drawn from 55 companies’ data, can be put down to growing confidence about safety, spending, good weather and ongoing staycations.

However, there was a performance gap between London, where sales dropped 1% in September 2019, and the rest of the country where they were up by 12%, showing that the capital still faces problems such as a shortage of office workers and international tourists.

Continuing challenges

Director at CGA Karl Chessell said: “These figures demonstrate the resilience of managed restaurants, pubs and bars in the face of strong headwinds, and show consumers’ appetite for eating and drinking out remains high.

“It’s especially pleasing to see revitalised sales for bars after enduring restricted trading for so long.

“However, difficulties for London and a 10% shortfall in rolling 12-month sales are reminders that we are not yet out of the woods.

“Many businesses remain under severe pressure from operational issues and debts, and they deserve targeted and sustained government support to sustain their recovery.”

Despite the boosted sales, managed groups in all parts of the country faced mounting challenges in September, including staff shortages, supply chain disruption and inflation in key cost areas.

Governmental support

The Coffer CGA Business Tracker also highlights the long-term impact of the Covid crisis, with managed groups’ rolling 12-month sales to the end of September 2021 down by 10% on the year before that.

Head of leisure and hospitality at RSM Paul Newman said: “The stark contrast in results for London, where sales dropped 1% on September 2019, compared to the rest of the country demonstrate that the challenges faced by the hospitality sector are far from over.

“Consumer demand is robust, but many businesses remain vulnerable with staff shortages, utility cost inflation and supply-chain disruption continuing to act as significant barriers to survival, let alone growth.

“There is a clear need for further targeted support from Rishi Sunak in his Autumn Budget Statement to help operators gear up for the all-important festive trading season.”

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