Britain's best managed pub and restaurant chains are delivering consistent growth and are leading the way for economic recovery, according to the latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which collects and analyses monthly performance data from 28 operating groups.
"These latest figures show that the public continues to go out and spend on eating and drinking out," said Peter Martin of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.
"Growth is more steady than spectacular, but the sector is becoming an important barometer of consumer confidence, as operators continue to invest in new sites and improving their offerings in what is a competitive market," added Martin.
Total sales in July, which include the impact of new openings, were up 4.3% on the same month last year. "Looking at the long-term trend, year-on-year like-for-like sales were running 3.0% ahead for the 12 months up to the end of July, with total sales running 5.4% up," he added.
"Interestingly, businesses outside of London did better in July than those inside the M25, up 2.6% and 1.1% respectively against the same time last year. This may be down to the weather, the start of the school holidays or perhaps the reported increase in staycation holidays this year. Whatever, it will be a welcome boost as London has generally been outperforming the rest of the country," he continued.
Martin said that food-led pubs and branded restaurant chains outside of the capital were the big winners last month, together seeing a 4.1% increase in like-for-like sales. Drink-led pubs and bars actually did slightly worse than in July last year.
Commenting on the data, Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said that sustained like-for-like sales growth was particularly impressive when set against a background of accelerating new restaurant and pub openings nationwide.
"Travelling families returning from overseas holidays will be reminded of the quality, value for money and choice available in UK restaurants," he said. "As a nation we can be very proud of our highly developed eating out sector."
Head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, Paul Newman, said: "The eating and drinking out market outside London is well into a period of catch up, with like-for-like sales tracking ahead of the capital for three of the past four months. The UK market as a whole is still experiencing steady growth, which bodes well for the rest of the calendar year."
Meanwhile, Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, said: "Like-for-like sales grew by 1.1% inside the M25 in July. Outside the M25 they rose 2.6%. We view it as positive that recovery is accelerating in the regions. The 12-month moving average inside the M25 is now 3.5% on a LFL basis while outside its 2.8% performance underlying the numbers is mixed but overall still positive."
The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 28 operating groups.