Pub sales suffered as a result of cold weather and an early Easter, according to figures from CGA Peach's Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Pub groups experienced a 2.7 per cent sales decline on the same month last year, undermining wider growth in casual dining trading, although restaurant groups registered a like-for-like trading increase of 2.5 per cent.
The Coffer Peach Business Tracker collects sales figures from 31 leading restaurant and leisure groups, including Whitbread, The Restaurant Group, Wagamama, Fuller's, Gaucho and Carluccio's.
The eating and drinking-out market as a whole continued to experience a slowdown in April, with collective like-for-like sales down 0.8 per cent on April 2015. This was the lowest figure recorded in the previous 12 months and followed a modest 0.6 per cent uptick in March.
"April's performance can in part be put down to the cold weather, to Easter being in March rather than April this year and also to the general slow-down in the wider economy in the run-up to the Brexit vote, but the underlying fact is that the overall market has been essentially flat since the start of the year, with April's numbers coming on the back of zero growth in February and only a small uptick in March," Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, said.
"The cold weather in the month also helps to explain why restaurants did better than pubs, as poor weather always tends to favour restaurants and good weather pubs," Martin added. "But taken together we are seeing a slowdown in market growth."
Total sales for the month among the 31 companies in CGA Peach's Tracker cohort were up 3.1 per cent on 2015, reflecting the fact that groups are still opening new sites, if at a slower rate than previously.
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: "This month's figures again show a disappointing like-for-like trend, particularly outside of London. This slowdown in growth is in part driven by an increasing number of exciting new concepts taking market share from the established, mainstream operators whose results dominate Business Tracker."