Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups saw collective like-for-like sales bounce back up to 2019 levels in August thanks to the Government’s Eat Out To Help Out campaign, the latest research shows.
The latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker show that while food-led businesses forged ahead, drink-led operations still found trading tough.
Despite the generally improved picture, Pizza Hut is to close two Scottish restaurants as part of 29 being shut across the UK in a major restructuring that will see a total loss of 450 jobs.
The restaurant chain said it would close restaurants on the Great Western Retail Park in Glasgow and in Cumbernauld.
The Pizza Hut Restaurants group – the franchise which owns the UK dine-in restaurants – announced on Wednesday that it was negotiating a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) deal to tackle “significant disruption” from the covid-19 pandemic.
The wider research figures show that with 85% of group-owned sites reopened, total sales across the whole UK managed pub, bar and restaurant market were still 12.2% below last August’s levels, but like-for-like sales in those businesses trading came out flat, so matching the sales volumes seen this time last year.
Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, said:
“To get back to last year’s sales levels in those sites that were able to trade is some achievement just a month after the industry started to reopen, and credit has to go to the [UK] Government-backed discount scheme that attracted so many people back out to eat, plus the cut in VAT on food.
“But of course not all parts of the market benefited, and there will also be concern about what the [Scottish] Government’s new legally-enforced restrictions will have on consumer confidence in the weeks ahead,”
Restaurants enjoyed the biggest boost last month, with group-owned sites that were open seeing collective like-for-like sales up 13.5% on August last year.
But because only 65% of chain-owned restaurants that were trading back in February were open again, total sales across that part of the market were still down 10.9% on last year.
Managed pub groups, which between them had 95% of their sites trading, had a more mixed experience, with like-for-like sales down 3.6% on last August and total sales down 9.4%.
However, food-led pubs and pub restaurants did prosper on the back of the Eat Out incentive with collective like-for-likes up 5.3% on last August and total sales down just 1.2%.
In contrast, drink-led pubs saw like-for-likes down 11.0% and total sales down 16.3%.
Across the managed pub market as a whole, food sales were up 12%, with drink sales down 15.3% on last August.
Bar groups, which had 74% of their sites trading, had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 27.6% and total sales down 37.0%.
Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, a partner in the research said: “These results demonstrate what a huge success the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been in spurring households to visit pubs and restaurants in August, many for the first time since lockdown began.
“It is no surprise that food-led businesses benefitted most with the proportion of delivery sales seeing a temporary dip from the highs of lockdown.
“September is another crucial month for the sector with the furlough scheme starting to unwind and the rent moratorium due to end.”