Just half of Britain’s 10 biggest cities in growth

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Vibrancy report: Sales slow in Britain's cities as sector tackles financial problems (Getty/ gary yeowell)
Vibrancy report: Sales slow in Britain's cities as sector tackles financial problems (Getty/ gary yeowell)

Related tags Finance Food Bristol

Food and drink sales at pubs, bars and restaurants are in growth in only half of Britain’s 10 biggest city centres, as mounting financial challenges take their toll.

The joint ‘Top Cities’​ report combined CGA’s sales data of more than 8,000 hospitality venues, guest data gathered from more than one million log-ins from solutions provider Wireless Social, to provide a ‘vibrancy’ ranking of Britain’s 10 most populous cities over the four weeks to July 2022. 

While sales were flat in the latest period of measurement, in light of inflation they are falling below in real terms as the hospitality sector builds back while facing new challenges.​ 

Sales across the top five cities in the vibrancy rankings for July were between 0.2% to 6.2% higher than in the corresponding four-week period in 2019. However, for the first time since the first Top Cities Vibrancy Report​ in January, the data shows five cities in total experiencing negative sales versus the same period in 2019. 

Tackling issues

Glasgow once again seized the number one spot​ on the list of most vibrant cities, primarily driven by sales performance. However, with inflation at nearly 11%, it will be difficult for this to constitute growth in real terms, which is the case for each city in the report. 

The latest research also saw last month’s top city, Leicester, drop to fifth place, with Birmingham sitting closer to its February​ and April rankings as it climbed from fifth to second place. Meanwhile, Bristol continued to rank highly, driven by increased log-ins in the latest four weeks which has contributed to its overall vibrancy​ ranking position of third. 

CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said it was “no surprise” to see Glasgow back at the top and it was promising to see Birmingham climb back into second position. 

However, he believed the data showed the sector was still facing substantial challenges like inflation, rising costs, staffing shortages and supply chain issues, despite the sales growth of some cities. 

“With half the cities on the vibrancy ranking report seeing negative sales versus 2019 for the first time since January and cost of living concerns beginning to impact consumer spending, it looks likely challenging trading conditions will continue to affect the sector,” he added. 

London down

London’s vibrancy was once again towards the bottom of the list, however during this period this was mainly driven by a negative sales performance (down 7% versus 2019) rather than guest log-ins. With the capital seeing an influx of tourists over its peak period, London has seen a spike in log-ins. 

Wireless Social founder and chief executive Julian Ross said: “While it’s encouraging to see growth in some parts of the country, the economic climate continues to be extremely concerning for hospitality businesses. 

“The cost-of living and energy crises​ rage on, with seemingly no clear objectives or support measures in place or even on the table – without this intervention, the industry is heading for an extremely bleak autumn​ and winter. Support for our sector is desperately needed, and it’s needed now.” 

Britain’s 10 biggest cities, ranked by vibrancy​ 

Rankings for the four weeks to 30 July 2022. Numbers in brackets indicate position for the previous four weeks to 2 July 2022. 
1 Glasgow (6) 
2 Birmingham (5) 
3 Bristol (3) 
4 Manchester (7) 
5 Leicester (1) 
6 Edinburgh (2) 
7 Liverpool (8) 
8 Sheffield (9) 
9 London (9) 
10 Leeds (4) 

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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