UK pub, bar and restaurant groups reported that sales grew by 2.5% over the six weeks of the festive season, compared to the same period in 2018, with spend increasing on both food and drink.

According to data supplied by Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the pub, bar and restaurant industry received a welcome boost after what was a turbulent year in 2019.

Managed pubs and bars performed best, up 2.7% on the same period in 2018. Further breaking down their sales, it was found that drink outperformed food, with drink sales rising 2.4% compared to food’s 2.2% across the managed pub sector.

Restaurant chains also saw a welcome rise in turnover, with sales increasing 2.3% during the festive period.

Total sales over six week festive period, including the effect of new openings since this time last year, rose by 5.4% compared to same period in 2018.

Karl Chessell, director of CGA, which produces the tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, said:

“It has been a challenging year for the eating and drinking-out market, so these figures will be a welcome boost for operators. Christmas and New Year is a vital time for the industry, so to see positive growth is good news.”

“These results underline the fact that the public still wants to go out to enjoy themselves over the holiday period, but also emphasise how important this time of year is to the health of the market, and that operators have to keep creating good reasons for people to go out,”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM added: “Operators will be celebrating a festive gift that ends a challenging year on a welcome high. Like-for-likes improved for both restaurants and wet-led businesses despite strong performance in the same period last year on top of the heavy rain and the political uncertainty affecting much of December.

“With consumer confidence finally improving, brands will look to carry this sales momentum into the New Year by capitalising on the trends for veganuary and alcohol alternative drinks without resorting to heavy discounting.”

Source: The Drinks Business by Phoebe French