Pub, bar and restaurant groups have now scored 14 months of like-for-like sales growth in a row.
November’s figure marks a rise from October’s figure of 3.2% and is close to the current rate of inflation in the UK, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
Karl Chessell, director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, at CGA by NIQ, said: “November’s solid growth raises hopes that consumers are starting to spend a little more freely, and that hospitality might move into consistent real-terms growth in 2024.
“However, with the sector still besieged by relentlessly high costs, conditions will stay challenging for some time to come. Christmas trading can make the difference between a modest year and a good one, so all businesses will be hoping that consumers’ celebratory mood translates into confident spending on eating and drinking out.”
The tracker – produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK – also showed a solid month for pubs, where like-for-like sales were 5% ahead of November 2022, and restaurants, where growth reached 4.9%.
However, sales in bars were 6.9% down year-on-year.
For the first time in 2023, total sales growth in the tracker was slower in London than the rest of the country.
Groups’ sales within the M25 in November were 3.5% up on last year, slightly behind the increase of 4.2% elsewhere.
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: “Given the miserable weather that dampened spirits in the early weeks of November and the tough comparisons with 2022's FIFA World Cup boosts, these year-on-year increase in sales will be viewed with quiet optimism as the Christmas party season gets into full swing.
“Large businesses are shunning all-staff corporate gatherings which are being replaced with smaller team celebrations, sparking a surge in bookings for pubs and restaurants which are better placed to host such events. After years of Covid restrictions, operators are all set for partygoers to splash their cash this December despite an uncertain economic outlook.”