The abnormal February heatwave provided a rare relief to the struggling UK pub trade as Britons sought out beer gardens to bask in the sunshine.
The monthly snapshot of trading at major chains, including All Bar One, Yates’s and Chef & Brewer, recorded growth of 1.4 per cent at pubs open for more than one year.
Bars focused on serving drinks rather than meals were the strongest performers, with London outperforming the rest of Britain, according to the Coffer Peach business tracker.
The unseasonal weather also provided a brief boost for struggling high streets. Shopper visits were down two per cent over the four weeks to 23 February although there was a mild resurgence when the sun came out according to the British Retail Consortium’s – Springboard footfall tracker.
Karl Chessell, Director of CGA, said: “The mini heatwave towards the end of the month certainly boosted pub trading, and also helped restaurant sales, as people enjoyed the unseasonal sunshine, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to move the whole market much.
“While people will remember the sun, it was cold at the start of the month and school half-term holidays appear to have given no more of a boost to sales than they did last year. Even within the managed pub market food sales are under pressure.
“The trading uplift in February has essentially come from increased drink sales, which were up 3.5 per cent, against a 0.9 per cent fall in food.”