Restaurants, pubs and bars see sales bounce in September but London struggles

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Britain’s managed restaurants, pubs and bars enjoyed a rise in sales last month, apart from in London, where businesses struggle with the absence of office workers and a drop in international tourism.


The Coffer CGA Business Tracker survey of 55 companies revealed that total sales rose 8% in September compared with the same month in pre-pandemic 2019, the second successive month of growth, boosted by growing consumer confidence about safety and spending, good weather and staycations.


But in London, sales dropped 1% compared with September 2019, as the capital continues to be affected by a shortage of office workers and international tourists. Sales in the rest of country were 12% higher.


Meanwhile, staff shortages, supply chain disruption and inflation continued to affect managed outlets all over the country, with rolling 12-month sales to the end of September 2021 down by 10% on the previous 12 months.


Commenting on the figures, CGA director Karl Chessell said: “These figures demonstrate the resilience of managed restaurants, pubs and bars in the face of strong headwinds, and show consumers’ appetite for eating and drinking out remains high.


“However, difficulties for London and a 10% shortfall in rolling 12-month sales are reminders that we are not yet out of the woods. Many businesses remain under severe pressure from operational issues and debts, and they deserve targeted and sustained government support to sustain their recovery.”


Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, added: “These are encouraging figures, however it is absolutely vital that the sector continues to grow revenues to combat higher utilities costs, input costs and wages costs, alongside restored VAT and business rates which are now hard wired in for the next 12 months.”


Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said the challenges facing the hospitality sector are far from over and called for more support from the government.


“Consumer demand is robust but many businesses remain vulnerable with staff shortages, utility cost inflation and supply-chain disruption continuing to act as significant barriers to survival, let alone growth. There is a clear need for further targeted support from Rishi Sunak in his Autumn Budget Statement to help operators gear up for the all-important festive trading season,” he said.


Shares in Mitchells & Butlers (LSE:MAB) PLC were 2.17% lower at 234.20p, while Whitbread PLC (LSE:WTB) shares were down 1.93% at 3,304.00p in early afternoon trade.

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