Britain’s drink-led pub and restaurant groups suffered a near wipe-out in sales during November, as England went into four-week lockdown and tougher restrictions continued in Scotland and Wales.
Total sales for the month for drink-led pubs were 88.8% down from November last year, with bar operators down by 90.2%, according to the latest data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.
Sales at group-owned restaurants fell by 65.9% against the same month in 2019, while sales in food-led pubs were down by 85%.
Across the market, total sales were 79% below November 2019. At the end of last month, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the market were down by 43.7% overall on the previous 12 months.
All licensed premises were closed when lockdown came into force on 5 November in England. With only limited opening permitted in Scotland and Wales, just 6% of Britain’s managed pubs and restaurants were trading by the last week of the November, with weekly sales down by 88% across the market.
Karl Chessell, director of consultancy CGA, which produces the tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM, said total sales for the sector were 21% below 2019 levels in September and 33.9% down in October, before “hitting the buffers last month”.
He said: “November was a wipe-out for the sector, and came on the back of difficult trading in both September and October as the roll-out of more regional Covid-19 restrictions depressed sales.
“Although August with the Eat Out To Help Out initiative saw healthy sales in food-led businesses, since then trading has become progressively harder.”
He added: “With half the country still in effective lockdown in Tier 3, and severe limits on trading in the other half in Tier 2, it is hard to see the sector finding much to celebrate in the run up to Christmas, always the market’s most important sales period.”
Trevor Watson, executive director of valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, said “November was another complete write-off for most operators. Sadly, with effectively the whole country in Tier 2 or 3 for the first half of December at least, prospects for a reasonable bounce-back in the most important month of the year are very weak indeed.
“The prospects for any loosening of trading restrictions in key markets such as London and other major cities look poor. Operators must resign themselves to very difficult conditions for the next few months, with the restrictions on household mixing and the need for substantial meals doing immeasurable harm to wet-led trade, which is the heart and soul of so many communities.
“We hope and pray this Christmas that vaccine progress will soon enable the politicians to swing their policies in favour of saving the economy as well as saving lives.”
A total of 48 companies provided data to the November tracker.