CESA’s analysis of the state of the industry in mid-2019 shows its members reporting significant drops in sales during Q2.
Against a backdrop of an increasingly stagnant economy, with UK published figures on the economy showing overall retail growth in July increasing by only 0.3% – the lowest recorded figure for July since 1995 – and food sales decreasing 1.0% on a like-for-like basis (0.3% total), the catering sector is demonstrating that it too is somewhat unstable, but with positive indications in some areas.
Information from CESA members indicates that Q2 saw drops in sales between 10-15%, with multiple retail sectors having stalled entirely, in line with the consumer trading. Bucking this trend, the group brewery/pub market is holding steady overall, with some areas of expansion.
There are also signs that operators are trying to save money. The service and spares industry remains strong, indicating that equipment is being repaired rather than replaced.
Sales of light equipment are also high, indicating that consumer spending appears to be holding well with significant inbound tourism due to the declining value of the pound compared to other currencies.
However, there is a tendency for buyers to downgrade to cheaper products overall, suggesting that there is less willingness to invest in capital goods for the medium to long term. Project work remains very competitive, putting further pressure on the supply chain.
CESA director Keith Warren commented: “These findings reflect what the latest government figures are saying. They are further evidence that the market is rather unstable at the moment.
“Certainly Brexit, or rather the continued uncertainty surrounding it, is part of the problem. We are at the heart of representing the issues with ministers and the civil service and are communicating the developments to members.”