According to the monthly Coffer Peach Business Tracker, leading UK pub and restaurant groups recorded a 2.8% increase in like-for-like sales in October – the largest monthly increase since Easter.
The small surge in takings should be considered in the context of weak comparatives – October 2008 witnessed the post-Lehman Brothers economic meltdown – but Peach Factory chief executive Peter Martin said the figures reflected ‘the continuing resilience of the major eating and drinking-out chains’.
Meanwhile, Santander’s Business Confidence Index revealed that hospitality and leisure firms were planning to create jobs in the coming months.
Among small and medium-sized businesses, 89% said they were confident in the prospects for their businesses as 2009 drew to a close, with 24% planning to increase staff in the run-up to Christmas.
Suppliers to the UK on-trade have reported a rollercoaster 2009. Damian Carrington, sales and marketing director at Fields, Morris & Verdin, reported ‘the worst August ever seen’, followed by a buoyant September and a downbeat October.
Overall, he said, things could have been much worse. ‘Restaurateurs are being more realistic. No matter how high-end, they’re doing lunch deals and keener pricing. But inventories are tight, and purchase amounts are typically smaller.’