It means the Tracker—produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM UK—has now been in year-on-year growth for six successive months. However, March’s rate is the slowest of the first three months of 2023 and substantially below the UK’s current rate of inflation. Pressure on consumer spending, mixed weather and rail strikes all contributed to the challenges facing operators over the month.
Pubs achieved like-for-like sales growth of 2.4% in March, while restaurants were 2.5% ahead of March 2022. The bars segment had a third consecutive month of negative figures, with sales down 13.2%.
The Tracker highlights an ongoing revival in London since the end of COVID-19 restrictions, with trading outpacing the rest of the country. Sales within the M25 were 3.1% ahead year-on-year, compared to 1.2% outside the M25.
Karl Chessell, director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA by NIQ, said “These figures emphasise that trading conditions in hospitality remain challenging and operators have to work hard to grab their share of sales. Consumers’ interest in eating and drinking out remains strong, but after adjustments for inflation it’s clear that in real terms, it is tougher for operators this year than last year. May’s three bank holidays will bring opportunities for strong trading, and there is cautious optimism that pressure on spending may ease as the year goes on. But the government’s reduction of support on energy bills from April, and increases in minimum wage levels, will add to the squeeze on operators, and real-terms growth will be difficult for some time to come.”
Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “The market remains challenging but there is some optimism among traders. Whilst top line growth lags inflation across the board many operators are looking to take advantage of better availability of property to build a selective pipeline of new sites. Much growth in sales is being derived from price increases rather than volume.”
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: “The hospitality industry is not immune to the ‘slowcession’ gripping the nation and these results reflect an industry that is stuck in a rut of modest like for like growth, but way below inflation. Operators will continue to feel the pinch until persistently high food price inflation begins to retreat but will be hopeful of an uplift in trade in mega-May to reverse this holding pattern of margin erosion.”
CGA collected sales figures directly from 74 leading companies for the latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker.
Participating companies receive a fuller detailed breakdown of monthly trading. To join the cohort, contact Andrew Dean at email@example.com
About the Coffer CGA Business Tracker
Participants include: Adventure Bars, All Star Lanes, Amber Taverns, Anglian Country Inns, Arc Inspirations, Azzurri Group (Ask Italian, Zizzi), Banana Tree Restaurants, Barkby Pub Co, Beds and Bars, Big Table Group (Bella Italia, Las Iguanas), Bill’s Restaurants, Bone Daddies, Brasserie Bar Co, BrewDog, Buzzworks Holdings Group, Byron, Cityglen Pub Co, Coaching Inn Group Ltd, Comptoir Group Plc, Cote Restaurants, Dishoom, Dominion Hospitality, East London Pub Co, Five Guys, Fortnum & Mason, Fuller Smith & Turner, Gaucho Grill, Giggling Squid, Greene King (Chef & Brewer, Hungry Horse, Flaming Grill), Gusto Restaurants, Hall & Woodhouse, Hawthorn Leisure, Honest Burgers, Individual Restaurants, Junkyard Golf Club, KIBOU, Laine Pub Co, Le Bistrot Pierre, Liberation, Loungers, Marston’s, McMullen & Sons Ltd, Mitchells & Butlers (Harvester, Toby, Miller & Carter, All Bar One), MJMK Restaurants, Mowgli, Nando’s Restaurants, New World Trading Company, North Brewing Co, Oakman Inns, Parogon Pub Group, Peach Pubs, Pho, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut UK, Portobello Starboard Ltd, Prezzo, Punch Pub Co, Rekom UK, Restaurant Group (Frankie & Bennys, Chiquitos, Brunning & Price), Revolution Bars, Rick Stein Restaurants, Riley’s, Rosa’s Thai, San Carlo, Shepherd Neame, Snug Bar, Southern Wind Group (Fazenda), St Austell, Star Pubs & Bars, State of Play Hospitality, Stonegate Pub Co (Slug & Lettuce, Yates’, Walkabout, Bermondsey Pub Company), Tattu, TGI Fridays UK, The Alchemist, Tonkotsu, True North Brew Co, Upham Pub Co, Various Eateries (Strada, Coppa Club), Wagamama, Wasabi Co Ltd, Whitbread (Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table), YO! Sushi and Young’s.