Restaurant and pub groups feel the pinch as sales slide at major brands in May

Francesca Washtell
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Pub groups did marginally worse than restaurants in May (Source: Getty)

​Brits became stingier with eating and drinking out last month resulting in like-for-like sales falling at pub and restaurant groups across the country, figures out today show.

Collective like-for-like for sales fell 0.4 per cent on May last year, Coffer Peach Business Tracker numbers showed. Groups in London did slightly better, with like-for-likes up 0.1 per cent, compared with a fall of 0.6 per cent outside of the M25.

Sales in May have fallen sharply compared with growth of 4.4 per cent in April, though Peter Martin of CGA Peach said it is “an essentially flat market”.

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Spending on eating and drinking out has proven resilient, even in the last downturn. Coffer Corporate Leisure’s Mark Sheehan pointed to pre-election jitters and worries about terrorist attacks in cities as possible reasons for the dip in May.

Restaurant chains did marginally better than pub groups in May, with flat like-for-likes compared to a 0.7 per cent decline across managed pubs.

Total sales growth in May among the 35 companies in the Tracker cohort was 2.4 per cent, reflecting the continuing if more subdued effect of new openings over the year.

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The Tracker monitors sales at some of the country's biggest pub and restaurant groups, including Pizza Express, Frankie and Benny's owner The Restaurant Group, Wagamama, Slug and Lettuce owner Stonegate and All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, indicated that such mainstream brands could also be feeling the pressure from pop-up vendors and other non-traditional eating and drinking out venues.

Read more: Sales at London pubs and eateries grew in March while falling in wider UK

Newman said: "“While spending on eating and drinking out continues to be prioritised, the growth in pop-up dining and number of new concepts increases the need for established operators to refresh and innovate their offering just to maintain market share."

He added: "With inflation continuing to rise and wage growth stagnating, consumers are starting to feel the pinch. We expect these factors to lead to more consolidation in the sector.”"

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