Hospitality venues that were able to open in England last week enjoyed a stronger bounce in sales than they did after the first national lockdown in July 2020, despite being limited to outdoor service.
Data from CGA shows that like-for-like sales at pubs, bars and restaurants that were trading in the seven days from last Monday (12 April) were 45% higher than in the week from 4 July 2020, when they were able to resume both inside and outdoor service.
Like-for-like sales at venues that were open last week were 21% down on the equivalent week in 2019—though that period did include the Easter weekend. But when compared to the previous week in April 2019, like-for-like sales were 1% higher. However, with data from CGA and Alix Partners’ Market Recovery Monitor highlighting that just 23% of England’s licensed premises welcoming guests by the middle of last week, total sales remain far below pre-pandemic levels.
Jonny Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK & Ireland, said: “Drink sales performance in the first week shows an encouraging start to the On Premise recovery. With capacity for outlets that have reopened significantly limited by outdoor only trading, like-for-like sales trends are ahead of the first week after lockdown 1 and strong against the equivalent week in 2019. Pent-up demand from consumers to get back out into pubs, bars and restaurants is clear and the first visit fear that many had in July last year is now playing less of a role in their decision to do so.”
“However, with less than a quarter of outlets in England accepting guests last week, this demand has been spread over fewer venues which is driving performance for those that have reopened. So, whilst this is a good start for the sector, it’s clear that hospitality’s recovery still has a very long way to go.”
CGA’s breakdown of data shows that drinks sales in trading venues last week were 49% higher than in the reopening week of July 2020, while food sales were up 34%. The first day of trading saw like-for-like drinks sales more than double that of the second Monday of April 2019, as consumers enthusiastically celebrated the reopening of pubs and bars. Comparative sales eased in subsequent days, but across the week they were 10% higher than the comparable week of April 2019.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is wonderful to see busy venues again, as people can at long last meet with friends after three months of lockdown, albeit only outdoors. Trading in such circumstances was always likely to benefit from a welcome initial spike but the return of limited trading cannot overshadow the fact most venues remain closed. For any semblance of widespread viability to return to the sector, it is crucial that the Government delivers on its commitment to dropping all restrictions from 21 June. If that milestone lapses, then the Government will need to be poised to provide further support for the sector—an investment that would be fully justified, given our ability to drive economic recovery.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of British Beer & Pub Association, said: “These sales figures are very encouraging for our sector and show just how much we have all missed our pubs these last few months. Despite the positive news, it is imperative we remember that whilst they still have restrictions our pubs remain unviable and the many are still to open. Only when all our pubs can fully reopen as normal will they be viable businesses and in the green once more.”