October sales figures flat for pub, bar and restaurant chains

20 November 2017

  • Like-for-likes sales up just 0.3 per cent nationally, against last October
  • London restaurants endured another poor sales month

Trading across Britain’s managed pub, bar and restaurant groups was essentially flat in October with like-for-like sales up just 0.3 per cent on the same month last year, latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show.

Businesses outside the M25 generally did better, with collective like-for-likes up 0.4 per cent against only a 0.1 per cent increase for operations inside London. Pubs and bars fared better than restaurants, with like-for-like sales up 1.4 per cent against October last year, while restaurant groups saw a collective 1.5 per cent sales decline nationally.

Restaurants in London were worst hit, suffering a 2.1 per cent fall in same store sales during the month, coming on the back of a 3.2 per cent decline in September.

'October’s flat trading was at least better than the 0.9 per cent decline the market experienced in September, and is more in line with the trend we have seen across the summer. The truth is that we are seeing little or no growth in the eating and drinking out market,' said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.

'This is not to say people have stopped going out – they haven’t. Eating and drinking out is still what the British public like to do, but they are not spending any more or going out any more often. But with more choice of where to go than ever before they are becoming more choosy and trying new places,' added Martin.

'This won’t help business confidence in the sector, however. With inflation running at 3 per cent, sales are effectively going backwards, and with cost pressures in the industry, around food inflation and people in particular, still rising, times are tough for operators,' he added.

Total sales growth in October among the 38 companies in the Tracker cohort was 4.0 per cent, compared to the same month last year, reflecting the continuing if much more subdued effect of new openings, which have slowed significantly over the past year.

Underlying like-for-like growth for the sector, for the 12 months to the end of October, was running at 1.3 per cent, with total sales growth over the 12 months steady at 4.1 per cent.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said:

'Sales in the drinking-out market showed signs of stability last month, while restaurant sales were under continued pressure. The restaurant market in particular is highly competitive and especially in London. Patterns of trade appear to be changing. The very best operators are trading very well and many outlets have queues, but the market is fickle and is a challenge as we approach the crucial trading period. With costs increasing for many it is a case of ‘battening down the hatches’.'

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added:

'It’s a second month of poor like-for-like sales for the sector, with casual dining groups being particularly hit. Consumers are continuing to choose to spend on ‘big ticket’ experiences such as holidays and sporting/entertainment events as their budgets get squeezed further. Operators will be desperate to see a reversal of this trend throughout the all-important festive trading season. For some, it could be the difference between survival or failure as we move into the New Year.'

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 38 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. 

Pub and restaurant group sales performance for last 12 months

  Nov Dec  Jan  Feb  Mar  Apr  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct 
LFLs   1.1%  1.1%  1.9%  1.7%  -0.5%  4.4%  -0.4%  0.6%  0.6%  0.2%  -0.9%  0.3%
Total  4.1%  4.4%  4.4%  4.7%  2.1%  7.4%  2.4%  3.7%  3.7%  3.5%  2.6%  4.0%

Source: Coffer Peach Business Tracker