Pub groups outperformed their casual dining counterparts in August, with a 1.2% rise in like-for-like sales versus a 0.4% decline respectively, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Collectively the 34-strong Tracker cohort saw like-for-like sales grow 0.6% year-on-year, following a 0.3% rise in July.
The regional sales split maintained the pattern seen in previous trackers, with London operators seeing 2.9% like-for-like sales growth year-on-year compared to a 0.1% fall for those outside the M25.
“Tourism will have helped the capital and the market will remain cautious as we move into the pre-Christmas period”, said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, which produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group and RSM.
He added: “The reassuring thing is that overall business was marginally up on last year at a time when consumer confidence was expected to be fragile in the wake of the referendum.”
Total sales for the month among the 34 companies in the Tracker cohort were up 4.2% on August 2015, reflecting new site openings over the past 12 months.
The underlying annual sales trend shows sector like-for-likes running at just 0.8% up for the 12 months to the end of August, the same as at the end of July, with restaurant chains up 0.9% and pub groups ahead 0.8%.
Trevor Watson, executive director, valuations, at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “Within these figures there are certainly some interesting trends. Over the last three months, the rate of growth between the pub sector and the restaurant sector has been broadly similar, unlike the last four years when restaurant growth has been significantly faster. This is further evidence of the slowdown in growth in the restaurant sector as the number of new openings reduces and sector moves into a period of more modest growth. London is benefitting from staycations and weaker sterling.
“Overall, the results are considerably more positive than some might have expected. Business and consumer confidence in the autumn season for the time being, looks as though it is likely to remain positive in the run up to the key Christmas period.“
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, added: “Three consecutive months of like-for-like growth across the eating and drinking out sector provides some welcome respite for operators in an environment where cost headwinds are increasingly prevalent.
“All operators are needing to work harder to remain relevant in the face of new competition. Refurbishments, redesigns and rebrandings are increasingly necessary for some established multi-brand operators. However, operators of all sizes need to remain flexible enough to remodel their offering in the face of changing customer needs. Investors should also plan to provide adequate cash headroom for existing site development capex that could impact ROI expectations and overall sector valuations.”