Trading fell flat across some of the UK’s top restaurant and pub groups across May, with like for like sales growth settling at zero compared to the previous year.
Analysis from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which considers sales from 52 leading companies, found that while restaurant chains experienced a 3.1% boost compared to last year, pub and bar groups saw collective like for likes fall by 1.7%, with drinks sales falling 2.4% and food sales down by 1.6%.
Trading was tougher in the capital, with London sites experiencing a drop in like for like sales of 0.6% compared to meagre growth of 0.2% outside the M25.
Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the firm that produces the tracker, said: “The public still went out to eat and drink, but only at the same level as last May. While this could initially seem like bad news for the market, especially after the positive growth seen in March and April, we have to remember that May 2017 benefitted from consistently good weather and the royal wedding, both boosting performance.
“Maintaining sales against this positive backdrop, and throughout what is widely acknowledged as tougher trading conditions, is no mean feat.”
Meanwhile the tracker found total sales, including the effect of net new openings since last year, experienced an uptick of 2.4%.
Trevor Watson, executive director for valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The pattern of spending in restaurants and bars reflects weather variations. At Davis Coffer Lyons, we are experiencing improved activity in terms of site finding, with many successful operators taking the view that now is a good time to acquire high-quality locations without needing to pay for excessive premiums.”
Paul Newman, partner and head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “Given the backdrop of continuing political and economic uncertainty, growth rates have remained remarkably resilient throughout May. Operators have experienced much volatility in recent trading with performance fluctuating wildly throughout April, with a late Easter weekend, shifting bank holidays and some extremes of weather to navigate. The overall market remains flat and those who remain open for business will hope to begin to benefit from recent restaurant closures in the months ahead.”