The ‘Top Cities’ report by CGA by NIQ and Wireless Social reveals that pubs, restaurants, and bars in the UK’s largest cities experienced substantial year-on-year growth in Q1 2023. Sales in the top 10 British cities surpassed Q1 2022 figures, and device check-ins are gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, these comparisons benefit from weak trading in early 2022 due to concerns surrounding the omicron variant, while high inflation also impacts growth.
The ‘Top Cities’ report generates a ‘vibrancy’ ranking of the 10 cities for Q1, led by Edinburgh, where sales and log-ins have significantly rebounded since the lifting of COVID restrictions. London ranks second as office workers and visitors return, followed by Sheffield in third, Glasgow in fourth, and Bristol in fifth. Leeds, Birmingham, and Liverpool face challenges from the cost of living crisis and rail strikes, hindering post-COVID recovery in footfall.
Chris Jeffrey, CGA client director, emphasises the resilience and dynamism of the hospitality sector and the need for sustained government support. He said, “This research shows that consumers remain very keen to visit city centre pubs, bars and restaurants despite the squeeze on their discretionary spending. While high inflation continues to make trading conditions difficult, hospitality is a resilient and dynamic sector that is helping to breathe life back into cities’ economies after the turmoil of the pandemic. It deserves targeted and sustained support from government to sustain hard-working businesses through the costs crisis.”
Julian Ross, founder and CEO of Wireless Social, highlights the industry’s strength in overcoming challenges but recognises the ongoing economic obstacles threatening many businesses commenting, “Hospitality is an incredibly resilient industry. Despite facing up to many significant challenges over the last three years, the sector is continuing to fight back. Footfall and sales remain strong in major hubs all over the UK, especially across competitive socialising and more experience-led concepts that have emerged and blossomed since the pandemic. Consumers are looking to get as much for their money as possible, and that is what these operators are capitalising on.
Calling for continued support to navigate the difficult path he added, “…the market is still fraught with economic obstacles that are continuing to pose a serious threat to the survival of many businesses. Soaring energy bills, grossly inflated supply chain costs, an ongoing labour crisis, and a business rates system that is simply not fit for purpose, are just some of these issues, and it’s absolutely vital that the sector continues to receive as much support as it can get. Without the requisite support, the road ahead is set to be extremely rocky for our sector.”
The quarterly ‘Top Cities: Vibrancy Ranking’ reports combine sales data from CGA’s Managed Volume Pool and Wireless Social’s guest data, offering a comprehensive assessment of the UK’s key city markets for eating and drinking out.