Total sales across managed pubs and restaurants declined to 2% in November, according to the latest Coffer CGA Business Tracker – below current inflation estimates.

While still a rise, it follows growth of 8% in September and 3% in October, with concerns over the impact of additional ‘Plan B’ restrictions likely to dent consumer confidence in the run up to Christmas.

The latest tracker data showed that managed pubs and bar groups both achieved sales growth of 3%, while restaurants saw 2% growth. Total sales dipped by 2% for venues inside the M25, which contrasts with the 4% growth seen outside it.

Karl Chessell, director - hospitality operators and food, EMEA at CGA, said November’s sales figures demonstrate the resilience of managed groups.

“They have battled hard to shore up sales ever since their venues reopened in the Spring, but the new COVID-19 variant adds yet another threat to trading in the most important month of the year,” he said.

“The next few weeks will be crucial to give hospitality some momentum for growth in 2022, but new restrictions may threaten the future of thousands of fragile businesses and jobs.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said it was unclear how the new variant and further restrictions would impact socialising and consumer confidence, with operators “desperately hoping” that consumers will go ahead with plans to celebrate over the festive season.

“This is a fragile recovery. November’s sales were relatively strong, but the current uncertainty is going to hit Christmas badly. However, the outlook is much brighter and despite some bumps in the road we expect a strong 2022,” added Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure.