The impact of the snow that badly affected the UK in the lead up to Christmas on the eating-out sector may have been over-played, according to a leading analyst. Peter Backman from Horizons said that while the snow had paralysed the UK at the worst possible time for pub and restaurant operators keen to make the most of office parties, figures suggesting the sector lost up to £1bn as a consequence of the weather seem unlikely. Backman said that while many businesses had had an awful time of it, given that the pub, restaurant and quick-service sectors do around £35bn of business each year in terms of food and related drink spend, it was highly unlikely hospitality had lost 3% of its annual sales due to the extreme weather. “It’s clear that some operators have done badly during what is a crucial period,” Backman told M&C Report, “but I suspect the impact will be closer to a percentage of annual sales , so around £350m of lost business.” Horizons assumptions do not factor in pub drink sales unattached to food – a market worth around £17bn. Geof Collyer, of Deutsche Bank, put the cost of the snow in lost sales to UK pubs, restaurants and the cafe market in the region of £500m to £750m in a briefing note, while Mark Brumby at Langton Capital suggested £1bn. It comes as yet more major retailers revealed the impact of snow on sales with Tesco registering anaemic growth for the festive trading period, and the likes of Game, Dixons, Thorntons, Argos and Halfords all posting declines.