Restaurant and pub operators are hoping for a surge in festive spending after a slump in dining-out dented restaurant and pub food sales in the run-up to Christmas, according to research analysing sales at some of the UK’s best-known chains.
Restaurant groups suffered a 0.1 per cent slump in food sales in November as wet weather and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming General Election kept consumers at home.
Pubs reported that like-for-like sales were up 0.7 per cent in November, driven by 1.1 per cent increase in drinks sales, while food sales slipped 0.2 per cent, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business tracker.
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “It was perhaps unsurprising that a wet and windy November saw diners sheltering at home rather than braving the elements.
“The restaurant sector saw volume sales down 2.1 per cent over the month and operators will be relieved that the fall in the number of covers was largely offset by higher spend per head by those who did dine out.
“With drinks-led businesses seeing like-for-like sales growth, the signs are positive that the festive trading season will deliver some welcome news for the sector.”
Trevor Watson, executive director at Davis Coffer Lyons, added: “Operators everywhere are hoping that the general election will revive consumer confidence generally in the final run-up to Christmas and New Year festivities.
“This could lead to much needed favourable December figures.”
Total sales – including the effect of net new openings since this time last year – across the 58 companies included in the tracker increased three per cent.
Underlying like-for-like growth across the cohort, which included casual dining giants such as Pizza Express, Byron and Zizzi owner Azzurri Group, was 1.6 per cent for the 12 months to the end of November, compared to 1.7 per cent in October.