Managed pub, restaurant and bar groups saw total July sales down 50.4% on the same month last year, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

As the sector gradually re-emerged from lockdown last month, pubs led the way in recovery, with groups reporting collective total sales down 44.7% on July 2019.

Bar groups faired the worst, down 63.3%, whilst restaurants saw sales down 59.8%.

Unsurprisingly given the disappearance of workers and tourists from the city, the London market struggled the most (trading was down 58.3%), compared to the regions which were collectively down 48.5%.

Of the group-owned sites that were trading pre-lockdown, the tracker found that 76% had recommenced operations by the end of July.

While 94% of managed pubs had reopened, just 62% of bars and only 36% of group-operated restaurants were back in business.

Of those restaurants in operation, delivery accounted for 13.1% of sales among the casual dining groups in the Tracker cohort in July, up from 7.4% in March and 5.9% in February.

In pubs, drink sales performed slightly better than food, with sales down 41% and 48% respectively.

“The figures are a reflection of the fact that reopening of sites has been gradual, and not all by any means are back in business, plus those that are open are in general trading at well below normal levels,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

“They also paint a mixed picture, with pubs tending to open up more strongly than restaurants, and London which was hit earliest still struggling to gain traction.

“Even before lockdown the casual dining boom had stalled and a number of groups were closing sites and restructuring. The COVID crisis looks to have accelerated that trend, and it is unclear how many of those group-owned restaurants will eventually reopen, certainly under current ownership.”

“Despite the fanfare over the July 4 reopening date for hospitality, in reality trade is recovering slowly,” added Coffer Corporate Leisure MC Mark Sheehan. “The restaurant sector, already under severe pressure pre-COVID has been decimated by the lockdown. The pub sector has proven to be more resilient as expected and is now bouncing back strongly in many areas.

“The August numbers will be helped by more people returning to work, Eat Out to Help Out, and also habits starting to return to usual and so we will see a marked increase in certain areas. Central London, however, still lags the rest of the country.”

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