12 December 2012

November Bounce-Back for Pub and Restaurant Sales

Britain’s leading pub and restaurant chains saw a bounce-back in sales in November thanks to later school half-term holidays. Collective like-for-like sales were up 3.4% on the same month last year, according to latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the industry’s sales barometer.

The result follows a 1.7% like-for-like sales decline in October caused by school holidays in many parts of the country being in November this year against October last.

Total sales among the 24 companies contributing to the Tracker data were up 6.5% in November, against a more modest 1.6% increase in October, reflecting continued new outlet openings by the leading operators.

“School half terms are invariably a good time for eating-out sales, with London trading ahead of the rest of the country last month and restaurant chains doing marginally better than pubs too,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the business intelligence specialist that produces the sector Tracker, the sector’s biggest and most comprehensive performance barometer, in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.

“However, the big half-term boost at the start of the month masked a more sober performance over the rest of November,” added Martin. “Sales in latter weeks were depressed as people appeared to be more reluctant to go out, possibly saving their cash for December’s pre-Christmas period. The market will hope so.”

Underlying Tracker figures for the 12 months up to the end of October show combined year-on-year like-for-like sales running ahead 1.5%, broadly in line with the general trend for 2012.

Regionally, the Coffer Peach figures showed the London market trading more strongly than outside the M25 during November.

Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The resurgent figures for November show there is continued long term steady growth in food and drink spending away from the home, particularly inside the M25. Many operators are hoping for favourable weather in the run up to the holiday season to support seasonal sales. Leisure park trade should also expect to see a boost as a result of new film releases over the next few weeks.”

Ali Aneizi, co-head of leisure and hospitality at Baker Tilly, added: “The November like for likes are a much welcome reversal of the decline posted in October. It’s now all hands on deck for the festive season with many operators banking on a bumper trading period. However, it remains to be seen what will happen in December. The industry has some way to go to beat the 9.9% like for likes posted in December 2011. As far as regional variances are concerned, London has again outperformed the rest of the country, a trend which has continued for eight months in a row.”

Jonathan Leinster, head of UBS European Leisure Research, said: “The comparative period on 2011 was not easy and therefore this represents a good performance. However, December faces a difficult comparative, and therefore the trade will be hoping for a pick-up against the weaker data in later November.

“After strong like-for-like growth in 2011, site growth picked up from August 2011 and was averaging over 4% from September 2011 to April 2012, before starting to decelerate. The deceleration appears to be continuing, with lower site growth probably reflecting the impact of mixed like-for-like performances in 2012 on investment plans.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker* industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 24 operating groups, representing combined annual turnover of over £6 billion, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark.