Hospitality sales sink by 26% in May despite indoor reopening

Pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK saw sales slide more than a quarter below pre-pandemic levels last month despite the reopening of thousands of venues, according to new figures.

The latest Coffer CGA business tracker revealed that hospitality operators reported a 26% decline for May against the same month in 2019.

Trading was weighed down by restrictions enforcing only outside operations for until May 17, while poor weather also impacted upon customer numbers.

The survey revealed that the reopening of indoor areas from May 17 particularly boosted restaurants, which reported a 13% decline against the same month in 2019.

Pubs saw stronger sales at the end of the month on the back of warm bank holiday weather but still reported a 34% fall against the same month two years earlier.

Meanwhile, bars were the hardest hit part of the sector, as they saw a 38% decline.

Karl Chessell, director for hospitality operators and food at CGA, said: “May brought a solid if unspectacular return to inside trading for managed restaurants, pubs and bars.

“Consumers have been eager to get back inside restaurants, and sunny weather helped pubs close the month on a high, but distancing and other trading constraints continue to offset those benefits.

“While the long-term outlook for the sector remains good, so much now hinges on whether the Government sticks to its road map to recovery.”

Hospitality operators are anxiously awaiting the Government’s next announcement about pandemic restrictions, due on Monday June 14, in the hope that the current virus curbs will be axed a week later.

Mark Sheehan, managing director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, said: “Hospitality is fighting for survival.

“The costs of compliance are higher notwithstanding the pressure on labour costs and until we see restrictions lifted we will see closures increasing.

“The good news is that the public have shown they want to return to hospitality in increasing numbers and the future, once restrictions have gone, looks very positive.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: “With rumours that the road map to reopening the economy could be put back by several weeks, further Government support is now needed until social distancing measures are fully lifted.

“A targeted extension to the 100% business rates relief for leisure and hospitality properties beyond the current end of June deadline will go some way to ensuring that pubs are still in business to capitalise on the welcome boost to trade that the Euros will offer.”