Food and drink sales in top cities back in growth but challenges ahead


Restaurants, pubs and bars in Britain’s major city centres are achieving solid growth in sales from pre-COVID levels, new research from CGA and Wireless Social shows but log-in volumes in all 10 cities remain well below 2019—an indication that sales growth is being driven by higher spend and increased prices rather than by more frequency.

The joint ‘Top Cities’ report combines CGA’s sales data with device log-in data from Wireless Social, the connectivity solutions provider for hospitality and leisure businesses, to provide a ‘vibrancy’ ranking of Britain’s 10 most populous cities over the four weeks to 7 May 2022.

It shows that nine of the 10 cities recorded higher sales over the four-week period than in the same period in 2019. Bristol tops the list of most vibrant cities, and sales growth was also above 8% in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Edinburgh moved up the table from 9th to 8th.

Optimism about city-centre restaurants, pubs and bars is tempered by high inflation, with costs rising sharply in food, energy, labour and other key areas. Steep price rises are also starting to squeeze some consumers’ spending.

CGA client director Chris Jeffrey said: “After more than two years of turmoil, Britain’s biggest cities are getting back to their pre-COVID vibrancy. We continue to see a release of pent-up demand, especially for late-night dining and drinking, and the steady return of workers to offices has been a welcome boost.

“However, footfall remains some way off what might be expected at this time of year, and COVID issues have been swiftly followed by intense cost pressures on businesses and consumers alike. While the long-term outlook for city-centre hospitality is good, significant challenges lie ahead.”

The series of ‘Top Cities: Vibrancy Ranking’ reports is based on a combination of sales data from CGA’s Managed Volume Pool of more than 8,000 pubs, bars and restaurants, and Wireless Social’s guest data gathered from more than one million log-ins.

Britain’s 10 biggest cities, ranked by vibrancy
Rankings for the four weeks to 7 May 2022. Numbers in brackets indicate position for the previous four weeks to 9 April 2022.

1 Bristol (5)
2 Glasgow (1)
3 Birmingham (2)
4 Manchester (3)
5 Leicester (4)
6 Liverpool (6)
7 Leeds (7)
8 Edinburgh (9)
9 Sheffield (10)
10 London (8)

Category: News
Tags: CGA, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Top Cities, Wireless Social