Pub sales growth in August 'encouraging'

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Climbing back: Pubs and restaurants weather the storm of summer rain (Getty: Credit/Kar-Tr)
Climbing back: Pubs and restaurants weather the storm of summer rain (Getty: Credit/Kar-Tr)

Related tags Finance ukhospitality Multi-site pub operators

Pubs overcame wet weather to record almost 5% growth in sales during August, which one trade body celebrated as “encouraging”.

Britain’s managed restaurant, pub and bar groups battled some dismal summer weather to record like-for-like sales growth of 5.3% in August 2023, the latest Coffer CGA Tracker has revealed.

The tracker is produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with the Coffer Group and RSM UK.

It has now been in year-on-year growth for 11 months in a row.

However, August’s figure marks a drop from 7.8% in July.

Growth in the tracker is at its lowest point since March and has dipped slightly below the UK’s rate of inflation.

Widespread cool weather kept many consumers indoors and made August a good month for the restaurant sector, where like-for-like sales finished 8.6% ahead of August 2022.

Weathering the storm

With beer gardens and terraces emptier than usual, pubs recorded 4.9% growth.

Bars continue to be the worst performing of the three segments in the tracker, with sales down by 7.5% year-on-year.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said that with more people seeking indoor hospitality offerings this summer, it’s “no surprise” restaurants saw strong sales growth in August.

Despite the cooler weather meaning beer gardens sat empty, she said it was “encouraging” that pubs managed to weather the storm with almost 5% growth in sales, no doubt aided by the Women’s World Cup.

“With a heatwave marking the start of September, I’m hopeful venues will be able to take advantage of a slightly extended summer period in their sales,” Nicholls added.

For the 16th​ month in a row, London outpaced the rest of the UK for sales growth. Managed groups’ like-for-like sales within the M25 were 7.1% ahead in August, compared to 4.9% beyond the M25.

Karl Chessell, director for hospitality operators and food EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said: “Against a backdrop of grey skies and cool temperatures, 5.3% growth represents a decent August for managed groups."

Difficult trading period

He continued: “However, persistent high inflation and the Tracker’s downward trajectory means year-on-year sales are marginally down in real terms.

“There are signs that consumer confidence may pick up as we move towards the crucial Christmas trading period, but high costs are going to make trading conditions difficult in hospitality for some time to come.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Despite ongoing disruption to train services that continued to impact London’s commuters, managed restaurant groups within the M25 enjoyed a stellar month with like-for-like sales up a lofty 10% in August.

“With inflation levels heading in the right direction, interest rates likely to have peaked and an extended period of hot weather to start September, consumers should feel buoyed to get together in local pubs to cheer on the home nations as they begin their challenge for the Rugby World Cup.”

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