First-day sales up 25% for returning pubs, bars and restaurants

Sales at Britain’s restaurants, pubs and bars were up by a quarter on pre-pandemic levels as consumers returned for the first day of indoor service following lockdown restrictions.

Average sales at reopened venues were 24.9% higher on Monday May 17 than on the equivalent Monday in May 2019, according to data from research consultancy CGA.

Food sales were up 29.6% as consumers took advantage of the opportunity to eat inside again for the first time this year in England and Wales while drinks sales were up by 21.2%.

CGA’s market recovery monitor suggested only about a third (32.9%) of Britain’s licensed premises were able to trade in April, meaning the majority did not reopen until this week.

Jonny Jones, CGA’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Consumers have been waiting a very long time to get back inside restaurants, pubs and bars, and Monday’s trading was a sign of how much Britain’s hospitality industry has been missed.

“Venues still face some tough restrictions, and in the case of late-night bars, nightclubs and venues with limited space, remain closed completely. But after a very difficult start to 2021, Monday was a very welcome step on the road map to recovery, however there is still a long way to go and continued support for the sector will be necessary.”

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “These numbers are a welcome reminder that the sector is much-loved by its customers and Monday was the first time many venues had opened since December – five long, hard months with no revenue.

“As we’ve seen previously, we often see a reopening bounce in sales, followed by a dip, so we hope these positive figures continue in the coming weeks.

“It is critical that Government restores consumer confidence in hospitality and restores our ability to trade profitably by removing all restrictions on June 21 as planned – let’s not forget that all of these businesses which are open are still making a loss until they do.”

A British Beer and Pub Association spokesman said: “This is an encouraging first day back for trade inside our pubs, but there is long way to go yet and the coming months are critical.

“Continued support from pubgoers by visiting their local, as well as the full removal of restrictions in pubs, are vital if pubs are to survive heading out of the pandemic and after more than a year of enforced closure or crippling restrictions.”