According to the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker, bars was the strongest of the three sectors for March sales with like-for-like sales growth of 8% with restaurants showing 6% and pubs at 2%.
The tracker, which is produced by CGA in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, revealed the overall groups’ like-for-like sales in March 2022 were 4% higher than March 2019 – a trend which has seen a gradual upturn with a drop of 1% in January and 3% growth in February.
CGA hospitality operators and food director EMEA Karl Chessell said the figures showed the managed groups were steadily building back from the past two years.
He added: “It’s particularly pleasing to see bars performing so well, as people return to late-night visits. However, like-for-like figures are well below inflation and with soaring costs in energy, food and other areas hurting both operators and consumers, real-terms growth will be extremely challenging for some time.”
Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan echoed Chessell’s comments on the figures being below inflation.
He said: “After a long challenging period for operators the recovery is slow and the challenges faced by the sector are wide.
“These numbers are improving though and returning workers and tourists in increasing numbers should help lift London over the coming months.”
The tracker also looked at sales in the capital and found trading in London continued to lag behind other parts of the country with managed groups’ like-for-likes inside the M25 being flat compared to 6% growth outside the motorway.
RSM head of leisure and hospitality Paul Newman said: “After the disappointment there would be no sector-specific support in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, March’s like-for-like sales increases will come as a welcome relief at a time when the last elements of Covid-19 support have fallen away.
“The sector is being challenged with extreme cost inflation pressures at the same time as consumers are facing increased restrictions on their discretionary spending.
“The extent to which customers can bear higher prices in order to protect already slim profit margins will be critical as businesses navigate their way through what will be testing times over the next six to nine months.”