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Punters drank more and ate less in heatwave, says Marston’s

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Pub group Marston’s has said food sales came under pressure in the recent heatwave as the searing temperatures saw people drink more and eat less (Marston’s/PA)
Pub group Marston’s has said food sales came under pressure in the recent heatwave as the searing temperatures saw people drink more and eat less (Marston’s/PA)

Pub group Marston’s said its food sales came under pressure in the recent heatwave as the searing temperatures saw people drink more and eat less.

It said food sales weakened over the past four weeks mainly due to the record temperatures, which took the shine off a recent rebound in trade.

Marston’s reported that sales had bounced back to stand slightly above pre-pandemic levels before the heatwave, but that the hot weather had left sales overall 1% lower in the 16 weeks to July 23 compared with the same period in 2019.

Chief executive Andrew Andrea said the firm has not seen any significant change in visits and sales since the cost-of-living crisis emerged.

But the group is reportedly increasing drinks prices by 7%-8% in the face of cost pressures, with premium pints now costing £7-£8 in London.

In spite of external economic headwinds, we have not seen any discernible change to customer footfall to date and remain cautiously optimistic that we will continue to see similar levels of customer demand across the summer

Andrew Andrea, Marston's

Marston’s revealed that its electricity costs are expected to be around £2 million higher than previously expected for the first half of the year due to the Ukraine war.

Mr Andrea said: “Since Covid restrictions were lifted, we have been encouraged with the level of sales as we have transitioned to operating on a ‘business as usual’ basis.

“In spite of external economic headwinds, we have not seen any discernible change to customer footfall to date and remain cautiously optimistic that we will continue to see similar levels of customer demand across the summer, where we will benefit from our investments in outside space and staycations.”

It came after rival Mitchells & Butlers, which owns around 1,500 pubs, said last week that soaring inflation is harming trade because of cost pressures on food supply, labour and energy.

Sales at Marston’s fell by 2% in the 42 weeks of its year so far to July 23 compared with the same period in 2019.

Shares in the company rose by around 1.8% on Wednesday following the trading update.

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