14 June 2011

Pub and Restaurant Sales Flatten Out in May

Spending on eating and drinking out-of-home flattened out in May, with a slight 0.3% decline in like-for-like sales – against a 3.8% uplift in the holiday month of April.

Figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which monitors sales performance across 22 major pub and restaurant operators, also showed total sales growth slowing among the sample – up just 1.7% on the same month last year, compared with a 6.2% increase in April. Month on month May was down -6.1% on April.

However, eating and drinking-out still held up better than retail. According to the British Retail Consortium / KPMG Retail Sales Monitor UK retail sales were 2.1% lower on a like-for-like basis in May, with total sales down 0.3%.

“Poorer weather after the hot spell and what looks like a post-Easter and Royal Wedding hangover among consumers will have played their part,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, the market consultancy which produces the sector Tracker in partnership with KPMG, UBS and the Coffer Group. “Nevertheless, the negative dip is disappointing as it marks the first month this year which as seen a fall in eating and drinking out sales, albeit a marginal one.”

“The good news is that if eating and drinking out are a better barometer of consumer confidence than retail, then the country is perhaps in better spirits than many think,” he added.

March like-for-likes had been ahead 0.9% with February up 3.1% on the comparable months in 2010.

Commenting on the latest figures, Richard Hathaway, Head of Travel, Leisure and Tourism at KPMG in the UK said: “Broadly flat like for likes are indeed relatively sound in the context of recent retail numbers, but they also show that trading remains tough – it’s difficult to see strong sustained growth for the rest of 2011 from all but the top operators and hottest brands.”

Mark Sheehan, Managing Director, Coffer Corporate Leisure, added: “The May figures still demonstrate that eating and drinking out numbers are holding up relatively well despite overall weakness in consumer spending. Corporate investment activity continues to be the driving force in the leisure market rather than strong trading performances.”

Jonathan Leinster, Head of UBS European Leisure Research, said: “Following strong 3.8% growth in April, something of a pullback in May was expected. This month’s results were ‘cleaner’ than last, with no one-off holidays and normal temperatures and hours of sun. Half term will appear in the June results, as it did last year. Taken together, April and May were not shabby, but could hardly be considered robust growth. We are expecting little change from recent like-for-like sales trends for the rest of this year.”

Coffer Peach Business Tracker is powered by Demographix