A strong trading performance during August resulted in total sales being 5% ahead of August 2019, according to CGA’s Business Tracker.

Busy restaurant

It is the first month of year-on-year growth since hospitality reopened from mid-April. Total sales were also more than a third up compared to August 2020, when most venues were open and trading after Britain’s first lockdown and the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative was running.

Versus August 2020, sales in August were up by 35%.

For the fourth month in a row, managed restaurant groups outperformed the market, with total sales up by 7% on August 2019. Pubs recorded 3% growth, with pub restaurants (up 6%) faring better than drink-led sites (up 1%). Bars enjoyed an impressive surge in sales following the easing of restrictions on the late-night sector, finishing August 21% up on 2019.

Widespread ‘staycations’ during the school holidays contributed to a strong August for regions beyond London, with sales outside the M25 up by 9%. London continued to be impacted by the absence of many office workers and tourists, and sales within the M25 were down by 7% on August 2019.

On a longer 12-month measure, COVID-19 continues to take a toll on groups’ trading. The Tracker shows rolling 12-month sales to the end of August 2021 were down by 15% on the 12 months to August 2020—a period which included the UK’s first national lockdown.

Karl Chessell, director CGA, said: “August was another impressive month of recovery for managed groups from the havoc wreaked by COVID-19. It is a particularly impressive performance given the severe operational pressures that many businesses are working under, including staff shortages, supply problems and rising costs. Sales growth is testament to the resilience and adaptability of the hospitality industry and consumers’ ongoing enthusiasm for restaurants, pubs and bars. While trading conditions remain some way off pre-COVID-19 norms, August will hopefully act as a springboard for a strong final four months of 2021 for the sector.”