Greggs, the food-to-go retailer, has said that sales in big cities and offices are lagging even as the rest of its shop estate, particularly stores in transport hubs, have improved in recent weeks.
Like-for-like sales across the UK bakery chain’s 1,831 company-managed shops were up 27 per cent in the first 19 weeks of the year, compared with the same period in 2021, in part thanks to trading restrictions on shops in the first part of last year.
The UK bakery chain said on Monday that it expected this growth to return to normal “as we compare to more robust trading periods in 2021” but added that “sales levels in larger cities and in office locations continue to lag the rest of the estate”.
Questions over whether white-collar workers will return in full numbers to offices five days a week have become more acute for businesses that relied on commuters as companies establish new patterns of working for employees.
The group, which specialises in sausage rolls and other eat-on-the-go pastries, said that in the 19 weeks to May 14 it had opened 49 new shops, mostly in retail parks. It also opened stores in Birmingham and Liverpool airports.
Total sales during the period were £495mn, up 30 per cent compared with the same period in 2021. It warned that across the sector, costs were increasing and that it was working to maintain its low prices as “consumer incomes will clearly be under pressure”.
Shares in the Newcastle-based group dropped nearly 3 per cent in early London trading, extending its fall for the year to 36 per cent.