Pub and restaurant sales halved in July after reopening

UK pub, restaurant and bar chains have said that sales halved in July compared with last summer after reopening for the first time after lockdown.

Sales in July were 50.4% lower year-on-year, according to data from the latest monthly Coffer Peach Business Tracker of hospitality firms.

Bars saw sales tumble by 63.3% for the month, while restaurant sales dived by 59.8%.

Pubs were more resilient, with sales falling by 44.7%, according to the tracker, which collates figures from 49 group-owned or managed companies that run more than 7,500 sites across the UK.

“The figures are a reflection of the fact that reopening of sites has been gradual, and not all by any means are back in business, plus those that are open are in general trading at well below normal levels,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the survey, with The Coffer Group and RSM.

“They also paint a mixed picture, with pubs in general opening up more strongly than restaurants, and London, which was hit earliest, still struggling to gain traction.”

It revealed that trading in London was down by 58.3% in July across venues, while trading outside the M25 was down by 48.5%.

The tracker also revealed that 76% of sites which had been open in February were open again in July.

It said that a large proportion of pubs quickly reopened after the lockdown, with 94% of pubs welcoming customers again, while 62% of bars also reopened.

However, restaurants were far more cautious to reopen, with only 36% of sites covered by the survey reopening in July.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Despite the fanfare over the July 4 reopening date for hospitality, in reality trade is recovering slowly.

“The restaurant sector, already under severe pressure pre-Covid, has been decimated by the lockdown.

“The pub sector has proven to be more resilient as expected and is now bouncing back strongly in many areas.

“The August numbers will be helped by more people returning to work, Eat Out to Help Out, and also habits starting to return to usual and so we will see a marked increase in certain areas.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “Business interruption support from Government has been critical in saving the UK eating and drinking out sector.

“Nevertheless, July’s results lay bare the challenges that remain for operators.

“The return of consumer confidence is essential but this could take months.”