10 December 2015

Post-Paris nervousness hits London’s eating and drinking-out markets

Total Like For Like Sales Growth

• Like-for-like sales in capital down 1.5% in November

• Restaurant chains experience biggest sales drop-off

London’s pub and restaurant trade saw sales dip in November in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. Public nervousness about going out led to a 1.5% decline in like-for-like sales in the capital, with chain restaurants feeling the biggest impact, according to latest figures from the industry’s sales barometer, the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Restaurant groups saw collective like-for-likes inside the M25 down 2.6% on November last year, with managed pubs behind by 0.8%.

“Although the rest of the country managed to deliver a slight sales uplift of 0.3% on the same month last year, the impact on London sales left managed pubs and restaurant groups nationally looking at an overall 0.2% like-for-like decline for the month,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM (formerly Baker Tilly) and UBS.

“When you consider that October had seen a 2.5% jump in like-for-like sales nationally, with London up 3.5%, you can see the scale of this November’s fall-back. Also November 2014 had seen a 3.4% increase on 2013,” added Martin.

“The public’s nervousness is understandable and it seems London has been affected both by a drop-off in tourist business and Londoners not staying out as long after work. Operators are reporting both reduced sales and cancellations of bookings, in restaurants and late night venues.

“The difference between November trading in London and the rest of Britain is most marked in the casual dining sector, with the 2.6% London decline contrasting with 3.5% like-for-like growth away from the capital,” said Martin.

“London will be hoping that public confidence returns for the Christmas and New Year festive season, in what should be the industry’s busiest trading period.”

Among the 30 companies that make up the Tracker cohort, total sales, which include the impact of new openings, were ahead 3.5% nationally on November last year, although flat in London.

Trevor Watson, director at Davis Coffer Lyons, part of the Coffer Group, said: “The international dimension seems to be having a significant impact on London in particular. Sterling has strengthened considerably over the last year, which is likely to be having an adverse effect on the spending of overseas visitors who make up a large proportion of London diners. This longer term effect, combined with the short term effect of the Paris bombings, is resulting in weak statistics for London in November. With the local London economy overall in good health, operators should however continue to look forward to a strong December.”

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, added: “After two years of almost uninterrupted like for like sales growth, these figures will act as a reality check for the eating and drinking out sector. Consumers remain nervous about the overall state of their finances and with operators facing significant cost increases next year, a buoyant festive trading period will be viewed as particularly crucial this year.”

Jarrod Castle, leisure analyst at UBS Investment Research, observed: “The 12-month moving average growth rate moderated to 1.3% for like-for-like sales (vs October 1.6%), while total sales growth was 5.2% (October 5.5. The 12-month moving average inside the M25 is now 1.5%, against 2.1% in October, while outside is 1.3%.”

The Coffer Peach Tracker industry sales monitor for the UK pub and restaurant sector collects and analyses monthly performance data from 30 operating groups, and is recognised as the established industry benchmark. CGA Peach is part of CGA Strategy.