New research shows cities in the north of England are leading the UK hospitality market despite the impacts of multiple challenges including COVID-19, the cost crisis and rail strikes.
The ‘State of the North’ research from Northern Restaurant & Bar and CGA by NielsenIQ reveals that restaurant and bar sales growth since 2019 has been ahead of the GB average of 4.1% in most key northern cities.
York claimed the top spot in the north, with average sales per venue in the city 16.0% higher in 2022 than in 2019, and growth in Newcastle (14.2%), Chester (10.5%) and Manchester (6.9%), also outstripped most cities—including London, where sales dropped by 6.5% vs 2019.
The new CGA Outlet Index data also shows the resilience of the hospitality sector in northern cities, despite the turmoil of COVID-19 lockdowns and trading restrictions. While there has been a net decline of 15.8% in Britain’s restaurants and bars since 2019, the drop has been less than half of that in northern cities, with Liverpool affected the least (-2.4%), Newcastle (-5.8%), Chester (-5.8%), Manchester (-6.3%) and Sheffield (-7.9%). These figures are all substantially better than London, where there has been a net decline of 17.7% of pre-COVID-19 licensed premises
The research confirms the dynamism and innovation of hospitality in northern England, driven by the region’s ambitious local entrepreneurs, as well as national operators, who have invested as the pandemic eases, feeding the growing appetites of both locals and city visitors.
The new research has been shared ahead of Northern Restaurant & Bar 2023, the leading trade event for hospitality professionals in the region, which takes place at Manchester Central on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 March. CGA will present more insights into hospitality trends in the north on the first day of the event.
Chris Brazier, Group Event Director of Northern Restaurant & Bar, said the findings reflected the strength, resilience but also the ambition of restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes and coffee shops in Northern cities. “Hospitality operators in cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, and Newcastle have suffered just like the whole hospitality sector, with huge issues around the cost of utility prices, food inflation, and staffing issues. While challenges remain, it’s encouraging to see operators being innovative and looking to the future. It offers a much-needed burst of positivity to see so many new concepts, sites and launches, and to see discerning but happy consumers flooding through the doors.”
“This is exactly why NRB is so important. It’s the first opportunity of the year for the industry to come together and support and celebrate Northern hospitality. It’s an incredible chance for forward thinking operators to share stories and advice, learn from each other, to meet their suppliers and to source new ones. With brilliant operators, hopefully fuelled by ideas and inspiration from NRB, I know Northern hospitality can continue to drive the economy, supporting vital jobs and supply chains whilst also providing quality, memorable experiences to millions of customers.”
Karl Chessell, CGA’s director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “These figures emphasise the strength of the restaurant, pub and bar scene in the north of England. Businesses here have dealt superbly with the triple whammy of COVID-19 restrictions, high inflation and rail strikes, and consumers clearly remain as attracted to venues as ever despite the pressure on their disposable incomes. Hospitality makes an enormous contribution to local economies, and while there are some major challenges ahead, with the right support this sector can power Britain’s economic recovery in the years to come.”
Northern Restaurant & Bar (sponsored by Uber Eats), the first major hospitality event of the year, returns to Manchester Central on 14-15 March. An unmissable date in the diary for everyone in the northern hospitality industry, NRB23 will bring together over 8,500 visitors and 300+ exhibitors for two days of business, networking, and education.