Restaurant groups returned to like-for-like sales (lfls) growth in August with London again outperforming the regions, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

The cohort collectively saw lfls grow 0.6% last month, with pubs up 0.2% and restaurants growing 1.4%.

London-based operators managed to increase lfls by 1.5%, while outside the M25 trading was up just 0.4%.

Underlying like-for-like growth for the 47 companies in the Tracker cohort was running at 0.5% for the 12 months to the end of August, the same as it was at the end of July.

Total sales was 3.2% in August, reflecting a slowdown but not a halt in brand roll-outs, and was running at 3.7% for the 12 months to the end of the month.

“These latest figures will come as a huge relief for restaurant operators, who have been under the cosh of late, not least because of the early summer heatwave which was great news for Britain’s pubs as the public headed outdoors, but little help for the country’s restaurant chains,” said Karl Chessell, director at CGA.

He added: “More mixed weather during August and a damp bank holiday weekend will have helped the casual dining market.

“The school holidays will have also helped as parents looked to keep their families occupied.”

David Coffer, chairman of the Coffer Group said: “The summer tourist season and the continuing good weather appears to have given an uplift to trading levels for restaurants in London, especially those with external seating.

“This is also reflected in the increase of like-for-likes in restaurant groups. This may well be a deceptive improvement as the impact of possible political upheaval begins to gain momentum over the coming months. The reaction of the UK restaurant public could swing either way in terms of seeking solace in food and beverage venues. Generally, we are seeing a continuing demand for restaurants in good trading locations but a drop-in demand otherwise. Premiums for leases are certainly at a five year low.”

Paul Newman, head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM, said: “Fierce competition, escalating input costs and flat like-for-like sales have contributed to the recently reported 2.5% year on year fall in the number of licensed premises in the UK.

“Post inflation wage growth is helping to underpin consumer demand for eating and drinking out. With fewer sites now vying for this increase in discretionary spend, operators will be looking to capitalise. Whilst it is still a tough marketplace, these figures show there is still a lot of opportunity.”