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Hospitality groups beat mixed weather and inflation with 3.6% growth in May

Britain’s leading hospitality groups achieved year-on-year sales growth of 3.6% in May 2024 despite disappointing weather in many parts of Britain, the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals.

 It is a quick return to growth after a 1.7% drop in trading in April, which followed six consecutive months of positive numbers. May’s figure is also comfortably above the current rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index. An easing of some household bills, along with two Bank Holiday weekends, provided a welcome boost to consumer spending during the month.

The Tracker—produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK—shows year-on-year growth was highest in the pub sector at 4.4%, while restaurants achieved 3.8%. Bars saw a 2.7% drop, though this is a substantial improvement on April’s figure. The on-the-go segment was 1.6% down.

For the fifth time in six months, hospitality groups performed better in London than elsewhere in Britain. May sales were 4.1% ahead of last year inside the M25, while increasing by 3.5% beyond it.

Karl Chessell, a director at CGA by NIQ, said: “May brought a relief to return to above-inflation growth in hospitality after a blip of negative numbers in April. Wet and cool weather continues to work against pub operators, but they and restaurants may be starting to feel the benefit of a relaxation of spending among some consumers, especially over occasions like Bank Holiday weekends. Bars and on-the-go sites are meanwhile still some way short of where they could be. The General Election and greater economic certainty may help to unlock further spending, but operators will be hoping above all for much brighter summer weather to tempt people out of home.”

Saxon Moseley,head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: “A return to growth in May is welcome news but the sluggish gains since April’s minimum wage increase means that many operators will be struggling to absorb this additional overhead. As rainy weather and delayed interest rate cuts continue to weigh on the recovery of consumer confidence, pressure will be mounting on whoever is elected in July to offer much needed support to the sector, with rates reform, reduced VAT and better access to skilled workers high on the wish list.”



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