Hospitality venues saw a steady start to indoor trading last week, however the poor weather highlighted the fact there is “still a very long way to go” for sales and profits to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to CGA’s latest analysis.

Average like-for-like sales were virtually flat (+0.2%) for the period from 17 to 20 May, compared to the equivalent period in 2019. Food sales were up 11%, but there was a 9% drop in drink sales, according to the latest data from its Recovery Tracker.

Across the beginning of last week, licensed premises bounced back strongly on Monday, with total sales up 29%, however the fell 2% on Tuesday, before rising 1% on Wednesday and were down 17% on Thursday.

“It has been a big relief this week to get back to full inside trading across Britain, and these figures show a reasonable start,” said Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland. “But with many sites still to open and like-for-like sales essentially flat, there is clearly still a very long way to go before sales and profits return to pre-pandemic levels.”

For customers returning to inside service, cocktails were the order of the day, with sales up 123% over the four days at the start of last week. However beer and cider saw sales down 19%, with spirits down 4%, wine and champagne down 8%, soft drinks falling 12%.

Jones added: “Pent-up demand, and hopefully some brighter weather, give us optimism that trading will pick up as consumers settle into new habits.”