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Restaurant sales fall but London operators benefit from weak pound

By Oliver Haill

Date: Wednesday 12 Apr 2017

Restaurant sales fall but London operators benefit from weak pound

(ShareCast News) - Restaurant sales dropped off last month after several months of growth, with flat sales growth for pub operators and strong performance in London helping the capital buck the trend.
Like-for-like sales for restaurants and pubs slipped 0.5% mainly due to Easter being a month later than last year, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, following a rises of 1.7% and 1.9% in the preceding two months.

Total sales growth in March was up 2.1%, reflecting the continuing impact of new openings over the year.

Restaurant chains saw LFL sale decline 1.4% in March compared to the same month last year, with flat sales for managed pub groups.

The timing of Easter, which usually provides a significant boost to eating and drinking out sales, was ascribed as the main cause for skewing the figures, said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, adding that operators will be hoping for an extra uplift in April's numbers.

London enjoyed a 2.9% LFL increase for the 34 companies tracked, including Fuller's, Greene King, Marston's, Mitchells & Butlers, Restaurant Group, Whitbread and Young's, driven by robust sales in pubs and bars as the capital showed no obvious reaction to the Westminster attack.

The capital benefited from an influx of tourists and an increase in 'staycation' spending weak attracted by the weaker exchange rate since the Brexit vote.

Outside the M25, LFL sales dropped 1.7% in March.

"With growing cost pressures on the sector from business rates, food price inflation and wage increases, the fact that consumer spending on out-of-home food and drink appears at least to be holding up will be some relief for operators," Martin added.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM said Easter was for companies now a close second to Christmas as a key period.

"An early Easter last year makes these figures tricky to assess although a 0.5% like-for-like decrease will be seen positively by many. This is especially good news when compared to the larger fall in overall retail sales for the same period.

"The trend towards experiences continues, with consumers increasing spend on eating and drinking-out over ownership of shop-bought products."

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