Consumers have been undeterred by the worsening economy when it comes to spending on nights out and eating out, a new report claims.
Managed pubs and branded restaurants across the UK saw collective like-for-likes sales rise by 1.7% during February.
The latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker results follow a 1.9% like-for-like increase in January and 2.2% growth over the busy Christmas and New Year period. London out-performed the rest of the country (like-for-likes sales of 2.6%), whereas the average rise outside of the M25 was 1.4%.
Restaurant groups performed best, up 2.4% nationally on the same month in 2016. Managed pubs had a collective like-for-like sales increase of 1.2%.
'With mounting pressures on the sector from business rate hikes, the falling pound leading to higher food costs and the general uncertainty around Brexit, the fact that consumers are still coming through their doors to eat and drink will be a welcome relief for operators,' Peter Martin, vice president of CGA Peach, said.
However, Martin added that though sales are up, businesses are facing reduced margins. 'Encouraging though these figures are, pub and restaurant groups will be working even harder this year to maintain trading levels as their margins are squeezed by increasing overheads,' he said.
'As our recent CGA Business Leaders Survey of 450 senior executives across pub, bar and restaurant chains showed, almost three quarters are looking to pass increased costs, at least in part, on to the consumer this year. That means they will have to redouble efforts to up the customer experience.'
The report is produced by business insight consultancy CGA Peach, in partnership with Coffer Group, RSM and UBS.