Pubs and restaurants in England trade at half their pre-virus levels

Pub and restaurant chains traded at half their pre-pandemic levels after reopening across England last weekend, as consumers proved to be wary of visiting their local or eating out.

Among those pubs that did open, sales on 4 July and 5 July were 45% below pre-Covid levels, the analysis found.

According to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker, which collates sales figures from 32 pub chains, about four out of 10 chain pubs began serving drinks again last weekend after being closed for nearly four months.

Restaurants were far less likely than pubs to resume normal service. Just 12% of chain venues opened their doors over the reopening weekend, reporting sales 41% below normal.

“Trading at around 55% of pre-Covid norms may seem a disappointing result, and it won’t be profitable for operators, but it is very much in line with what we have seen in other markets,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the consultancy that produces the data with the Coffer Group and the audit group RSM.

“When bars and restaurants began reopening in the US during May, it was only after a couple of weeks that sales reached 54% of pre-Covid levels.

“It is going to take time for the trade to return but this provides a foundation on which to build consumer confidence and adapt and improve operations.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a multibillion pound package to support the hospitality industry on Wednesday, including a government-funded meal discount scheme and a VAT reduction to 5% for food and soft drinks.

But pubs that rely on alcohol sales have warned that they face closure after being excluded from the support.

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