28 April 2017

Late Easter does no favours for Britain’s eating-out market

It was an Easter break to forget for Britain’s managed pub
and restaurant groups with collective like-for-like sales down 3.8% on 2016’s
four-day holiday weekend, according to latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker

While managed pubs experienced only a
1% fall in like-for-like sales, restaurant operators in the Tracker cohort
suffered a steep 9.1% drop in like-for-like performance over the extended
weekend period, including Good Friday and Easter Monday, compared to last
year’s holiday weekend.

“It was not a good time for eating out,
as within the pub figures food-led businesses were down more than their
drink-led competitors, which actually saw a slight increase in trade,” said Peter
Martin, vice president of CGA Peach,
the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with
Coffer Group and RSM.

“The weather will have played its part
in the comparative poor performance in restaurants, but Easter falling late
this year in April, rather than in March last year, will have been a factor
too,” added Martin. “However, there will be concern that the overall decline is
not a sign of a tightening in consumer spending.

“Easter last year was wet and this year
the weather was much better, so that would have favoured pubs over restaurants
– the reverse was true last year. A late Easter also meant that some school
holidays fell before the bank holiday weekend, meaning some children will have
gone back to school on the Tuesday. This may have curtailed the urge for
families to go out.

“There are a number of factors at work
here, and it has to be noted that like-for-like trading in March was only down
0.5% on 2016’s numbers, even without the impact of Easter, which is usually a
busy time for the sector. Operators will hope that overall April sales will
hold up, even with a disappointing Easter, and that trading will even itself up
over the two month period. We will know in a few weeks.

“However, there will be nervousness
about consumer sentiment with cost pressures hitting businesses and customers
alike. We expect overall trading to remain fairly flat for the foreseeable
future,” said Martin.

Last month, Coffer Peach reported the
underlying annual sales trend for managed pubs and restaurants showing sector
like-for-likes running at just 0.8% ahead for the 12 months to the end of

Trevor Watson,
executive director, valuations, at Davis
Coffer Lyons
, said:
“Easter statistics are prone to variations around weather and time of
year, nevertheless, these figures indicate that the UK consumer is starting to
take a more cautious approach towards eating and drinking away from the home.
The pub sector is now seeing the benefit of being leaner than it has been for
some years which contrasts with the restaurant sector.”  

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM said: “These latest figures highlight the tougher
consumer environment for the eating and drinking out sector. Since June we’ve
seen a significant drop in consumer confidence and this year’s Easter spending
will have been impacted by the squeeze on household budgets due to rising
inflation and relatively static wages.


“April’s results will give
a clearer indication if the later arrival of Easter and the weather over the
period impacted the figures significantly or if they are more representative of
an accelerated slowdown. In the meantime, the government’s business rate relief
fund is now available which will offer welcome light relief to some operators.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales
monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collected and analysed Easter
performance data from 31 operating groups. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.


To join the cohort contact Hannah
Harris, hannah.harris@cgastrategy.co.uk

About Coffer Peach Business Tracker

Peach collected sales figures directly from 31 leading companies. Participants
include Mitchells & Butlers (owner of Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter,
All Bar One etc), Pizza Hut, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table),
Pizza Express, The Restaurant Group (Frankie & Bennys, Chiquitos, Brunning
& Price), Spirit Group (part of Greene King – Flaming Grill, Fayre &
Square), Stonegate (Slug & Lettuce, Walkabout, Yates’), TGI Fridays, Marston’s,
Azzurri Restaurants (Zizzi, ASK), Wagamama, YO! Sushi, Prezzo, Novus (Tiger
Tiger), Fuller’s, Carluccio’s, Young’s, Living Ventures, Strada, Amber Taverns,
Hall & Woodhouse, Giraffe, Loungers, Byron, New World Trading Co, Peach Pub
Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Laine Pub Co, All Star Lanes, Le Pain Quotidien and
Downing LLP (investment partner of Antic London)


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