The British public continued to go out to eat and drink in February 2018 – in spite of the cold weather and the negative media stories around restaurant chain closures.

Latest figures from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (CPBT) show that collective like-for-like sales for managed pub and restaurant groups were slightly up 0.2% compared to the same month last year.

However, restaurant brands had a much rougher month than pubs, with collective like-for-likes down 1.5%, in contrast to a 1.3% increase for managed pubs. London fared better than the rest of GB, with like-for-likes up 0.8% compared to flat trading across the rest of the country.

“Most of the effects of the major snow disruption will show up in the March data, but even so, to come out effectively even for February as a whole shows the resilience of both the sector and consumers,” said Peter Martin, vice president of CGA.

“Although the February numbers will bring some comfort to operators, they are still below inflation, and with the extra business costs around property, people and food prices, it remains a challenging trading environment,” Martin said.

Despite the hostile trading environment, leaders in the pub and restaurant industry remain upbeat about their own businesses. Nearly two thirds (64%) say they are optimistic for their companies’ prospects over the next 12 months—down only slightly from the figure (68%) at the start of 2017. Only one in 11 (9%) is pessimistic about 2018.

CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey identifies optimism among drinks-led operators in particular. More than two in five leaders (43%) in this sector are optimistic about the general market over the next 12 months, compared to fewer than a third (30%) of food-led firms’ leaders. With evidence of a more sustainable level of supply in drinks-led venues, and the CBPT identifying faster growth for pubs and bars than restaurants in 2017, this part of the market is tipped for a better 2018 than restaurants.