Sales at London's restaurants climbed in January, bringing a glimmer of hope to struggling chain restaurants.
Like-for-like sales at the capital's eateries were up one per cent, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which keeps tabs on most of the big chains, including troubled operators Byron and Prezzo.
But outside the M25, sales slid by 0.3 per cent. Several traders are also relying on hefty discounts to keep sales moving up or even flat.
"Consumers have more choice than ever," explained Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA, which produces the tracker. "Brands that may have over extended themselves are now feeling the pain."
Jamie's Italian and Byron have both entered company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) this year, while Prezzo is considering its options and EAT is also pondering store closures.
Earlier this week, Jamie Oliver's two Barbecoa restaurant sites in Piccadilly Circus and One New Change went on the market. City A.M. understands that the restaurants could close within the next few weeks.
There was better news in the drinks-led pub sector, however, as operators performed well across the country. Like-for-like sales nationally were up one per cent.
David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group, predicted that while the restaurant sector could be due for an adjustment, there will be growth in drinks-led businesses, as well as "a recovery in well-run, sophisticated restaurant brands".