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Pub and restaurant trade much stronger than week after first lockdown, data shows

Joanna Bourke and Naomi Ackerman
·2-min read
<p>Hospitality firms are now allowed to serve customers outdoors</p> (Getty Images)

Hospitality firms are now allowed to serve customers outdoors

(Getty Images)

Pubs and restaurants saw sales from the first week of reopening up almost half on the comparable week in July as the battered hospitality sector flares back into life, new data shows.

Like-for-like sales for the seven days from April 12 were 45% higher than in the week after England’s first lockdown lifted last summer, data consultancy firm CGA said.

The firm’s UK MD Jonny Jones said: “Pent-up demand from consumers to get back out into pubs, bars and restaurants is clear, and the first visit fear that many had in July last year is now playing less of a role in their decision to do so.”

The figures came alongside a cocktail of upbeat updates.

JD Wetherspoon said it will reopen 139 more sites, including four in London, next week, which will mean 533 of its 871 venues will be serving customers outside.

Shepherd Neame said it has opened some 200 pubs out of 316 and “early demand has been encouraging”.

The firm, which reported a first-half pre-tax loss of £7.2 million for the 26 weeks to December 26, compared with a £5.4 million profit for the same period a year earlier, plans to open the rest of its sites in May when indoor service is set to be permitted.

Boss Jonathan Neame said: “The speed of recovery at the moment, after just eight days, is faster than we saw in July last year, and that suggests to me that people feel more confident.”

Meanwhile, the Waterfront Limited Partnership, a joint venture between live entertainment company AEG and Crosstree Real Estate Partners, has let more than 32,000 sq ft to firms under the roof of The O2 in Greenwich.

Brands including Japanese noodle restaurant Marugame Udon, Middle Eastern diner Soukra, Kitchen Pizzeria, and Boom: Battle Bar, which specialises in competitive socialising such as axe throwing, crazy golf and beer pong, will also open there this summer.

UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls said: “Trading in such circumstances was always likely to benefit from a welcome initial spike but the return of limited trading cannot overshadow the fact most venues remain closed.”

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