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Pub group Marston's sales lower than pre-pandemic levels on Omicron curbs

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FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Burton-on-Trent
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(Reuters) -Pub operator Marston's said on Tuesday its like-for-like sales for the 16 weeks ended Jan. 12 came in 3.9% lower than pre-pandemic levels, as Britain reimposed COVID-19 curbs and people chose to stay indoors amid rising Omicron cases.

The company, which operates more than 1,400 pubs, breweries and even inns across England, Scotland and Wales, said its like-for-like sales in the last eight weeks fell 8.8% compared with 2019 numbers, with overall revenue in the 16-week period dropping 3.6%.

Government advice for people to work from home and limit social contacts in preparation for an Omicron winter left social venues like pubs and restaurants largely empty in what would have otherwise been one of their busiest periods.

Marston's said its pubs in Scotland and Wales felt a bigger impact than England because of tighter restrictions, adding that the sales of drinks in general had performed better than food sales.

"While the emergence of the Omicron variant and subsequent government guidance temporarily impacted consumer sentiment, we remain confident that the strong trading momentum, which we were experiencing prior to that, will resume," Marston's Chief Executive Officer Andrew Andrea said in a statement.

The company's performance was in line with that of rival Mitchells & Butlers, which earlier this month also flagged disruptions due to the Omicron-fuelled restrictions.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Priyanshi Mandhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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