Sales at Britain’s pub, bar and restaurant groups pushed ahead of pre-pandemic levels for a third consecutive month in October, despite labour shortages and rising costs continuing to drag on performance.
Sales rose 3% on 2019 levels amid a continued rebound in the late-night market. Bars enjoyed sales growth of 13%, according to a report by the CGA, The Coffer Group and RSM.
Pubs fared better than restaurants with sales growing 3% and 2% respectively.
Sales were up 64% from October 2020 when pubs and restaurants were closed during lockdown.
Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “The bar and late-night market particularly is very strong and we see this improvement as sustainable not just in the short term but to 2022 and beyond.”
But CGA warned the sector remains under severe pressure from rising food, drink and energy costs and distribution and recruitment problems.
Karl Chessell at CGA said firms remain in a fragile position ahead of the Christmas trading period, despite sales growth.
He said: “Managed groups battled hard to sustain sales in October, but patchy consumer confidence and a host of external challenges are making real-terms growth elusive.
“Hopes are pinned on a strong Christmas trading period, but the sector needs and deserves sustained support in many areas well into 2022 to help fuel its recovery.”
Trading in London remained slow compared with the rest of the country as a shortage of office workers and tourists continued to dampen growth. Sales were down 4% in the capital, while they were up 6% outside the M25.
Firms continued to feel the drag of earlier lockdowns with 12-month sales to the end of October down by 4.5% on the previous 12 months.