London restaurants enjoy golden summer sales

London’s spectacular summer boosted pub and restaurant sales by 5% in August, but the rest of the country registered only sluggish growth of 1%.

The Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which records sales for 25 of the country’s largest operator groups, registered average growth across the UK of 2.1% over August 2011.

Catering equipment suppliers will hope that last month’s growth turns into a longer term trend that will build confidence and lead to greater investment.

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Sales growth was strongest in the second half of August, in part due to last summer’s riots depressing sales 12 months earlier, the report found.

“There were a number of factors at play – the bounce back from last year’s August riots, brighter weather for much of the month and, of course, the Olympics,” said Peter Martin of Peach Factory, which produces the report in partnership with Coffer Group, Baker Tilly and UBS.

“Across the country as a whole, the second week of the month, which coincided with the anniversary of the riots that severely hit areas of London and other major cities, saw the biggest increase against last year’s trading, suggesting a real riot-related bounce-back,” explained Martin.

Last year’s riots make it difficult to judge how much of a bounce operators enjoyed from the Olympics. “Gauging whether there was an overall Olympic bonus in the capital, or how big it was, is clouded by the riots effect. However, it is fair to say that the rest of the country did not receive a Games dividend, with overall sales only marginally up on last year, despite the better weather,” suggested Martin.

Mark Sheehan, managing director of Coffer Corporate Leisure, struck a positive note on the monthly numbers: “The incredible worldwide coverage for London and the UK this summer is the real story. Some operators in the UK have suffered badly, but the long-term benefit to the hospitality sector nationally will be immense. London will be top of the must visit list for many millions of people and the positive spirit within the UK may well help to get people spending again which will take us out of recession. In total these like for likes are surprisingly positive given the television coverage of the Games this summer and the mass exodus after the Olympics,” he concluded.

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