Final Week of August Sees Like-for-Likes Rise by 5%

Following a recent decline in like-for-likes, August’s concluding week saw sales increase by 5% when compared to the same week in 2019. 

This 5% increase was mainly a result of food like-for-likes rising by 12% — a similar trend in regards to recent like-for-likes. Drink like-for-likes, on the other hand, dropped by 1% in comparison to the same week in 2019. 

Week-on-week sales were up by 6.5%, with London’s sales increasing by 4% based on the previous week — a rise that has been a rarity in recent weeks. As for non-London, week-on-weeks were up 7%.

S4labour’s Chief Innovation Officer, Richard Hartley, commented: “the final week of August caps off a month that’s appeared to be mostly quite difficult for London’s week-on-weeks. This last week, however, spells some positivity for the Capital. The longer weekend may have resulted in London sites experiencing higher sales compared to usual.”

Hospitality Like-for-Likes Down 5.5%

Hospitality like-for-likes were down 5.5% last week when compared to the same week in 2019. 

The majority of the decline was driven by a 17% decrease in drink like-for-likes. However, food sales were up by 11%. 

As for week-on-week sales, S4labour’s research shows a small 1% overall increase on the previous week. However, London and non-London revealed differences; something that has often been the case. London’s week-on-weeks were level, whilst non-London sites saw a week-on-week increase of 1.4%. 

Richard Hartley, S4labour’s Chief Innovation Officer, stated: “These figures continue to reinforce the picture we’ve been seeing: food operators, mainly outside of London, are continuing to do well — whilst many drink focused operators are struggling. Tourist trade may help food focused sites in London; whereas wet-led sites are continuing to experience reduced footfall in the Capital. 

Mid-August Sees High Like-for-Likes at 7.7%

As we start to enter mid-August, S4labour’s research shows there to be high like-for-like figures at 7.7% as well as a gradual increase in week-on-week sales figures.

Last week’s food sales were up 16% compared to the same week in 2019 — meaning like-for-like food sales are continuing to increase as we head further out of restrictions. As for like-for-like drink sales, they did increase too  although by a much smaller 1%. 

London sales have risen by 2.3% based on the previous week  a first for the Capital which has been in recent decline. Non-London, however, had week-on-week sales growth of 1%. Notably, the difference in week-on-week food sales is of interest: Non-London saw an increase of 1.4%, while London’s food sales grew by 3.4%. 

Speaking to S4labour’s Chief Innovation Officer, Richard Hartley, he stated: “The increase in like-for-like sales is very positive for the hospitality industry. With an increase in staycations, and generally there being more consumer confidence at the moment, hopefully these increases will continue and not be short-lived. We are now seeing sustained week-on-week growth in addition to positive like-for-likes.”

Top Tips for a Successful Dry January

After an indulgent festive period, many will aim to kick-start a healthier lifestyle and limit their alcohol intake for “Dry January”.

Studies estimate that over 4 million people plan to stop drinking for the first month of 2019. A cut back on spending and calories from customers makes it a difficult time of year for hospitality.

As businesses typically see a sharp decline in footfall and sales during January, offering discounts can be tempting solution. However, selling everything at a lower price can harm profits. Some operators will turn to alternative strategies to avoid those post-Christmas blues.


In response to Dry January, operators are embracing “Try January”, a campaign encouraging people to try new drinks and dishes this month. The aim is to challenge people to try different items on the menu, transforming this usually dreary month into something exciting. Providing visitors with new delicious choices for a limited time is a great way to bring in trade and gives customers something to look forward to.

Offer a variety of soft drinks

As people try to reduce their alcohol consumption, providing a wider selection of soft drinks can help prevent sales falling. Research suggests that more and more people are choosing soft drinks over alcoholic drinks, and not just at the start of the year. Mocktails are a great solution as they offer customers exciting tastes without losing the atmosphere that comes with drinking out.

Increase healthy menu items

After too many mince pies and pigs in blankets, people tend to make more health-conscious choices and this trend isn’t limited to January. Research indicates there is a shift towards healthier eating all year-round. Contributing to this movement is veganism, which has exploded in popularity in recent times. This upward trend presents an opportunity for menu experimentation, helping to keep meals fresh and exciting. People choosing where to eat as a group will be more attracted to menus that cater for everyone’s dietary needs. Increasing the number of vegan dishes, such as salads and other high yield items, can help boost profits throughout the year.

Focus on social media engagement

Studies have shown that people tend to avoid venues that lack an online presence. Making sure your website and social media pages are up to date is vital. You can post live videos on Facebook and Instagram to let customers know what you’re up to and highlight any special events or promotions taking place. Engaging with customers can help prevent a quiet January and showing off new products means people won’t want to miss out.

Encourage staff to upsell

As purse strings are tightened, it is important that staff are upselling where they can to drive sales. Implementing a reward scheme for the number of additional items sold with main dishes can be a good way to incentivise employees to go the extra mile. This will increase staff engagement and keep morale up, ensuring excellent customer service.

January is the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate business strategies and internal processes. Exciting menu items and attractive events can bring in new visitors and keep regulars returning to discover something new. Expanding the menu to cater for a health-conscious market and upselling can boost January sales. Effective marketing and planning will ensure success for the rest of the year.


Get in touch today to find out more about how S4Labour can promote the health of your business in January and all your round.


Top Tips- Making the Most of the Festive Season

Christmas is the “most wonderful time of year” for hospitality. After quieter Autumn trading, the festive season brings a surge in demand and a chance to drive repeat custom.

The festive atmosphere marks an increase in footfall and a boost to profits. The best operators will exploit this further to maximise revenue in preceding months. Providing customers with exceptional service during December will promote the long-term health of their business. Here are our top tips to make this Christmas a roaring success.

Prepare in Advance All Year Round

Kitchens tend to run most efficiently on Christmas day. In anticipation of a high footfall and eagerness to get home to families, most of the meal preparation is done beforehand. This shortens the service length and keeps labour costs down. Customers benefit from reduced waiting times and staff experience less pressure during their shifts. It would make a huge difference to take this approach throughout the year.

Schedule to Match Demand

The festive period brings a unique pattern of high demand for sales and is the busiest time of year for hospitality. A large group booking will justify having additional team members on shift. However, if you know the party will only be on site for a few hours, there is little point having everyone working the whole day. To maximise revenues and staff productivity, stagger start and end times. This will reduce unnecessary labour spend and encourage flexible working. Staggering start times will make team members more receptive to a later than usual finish. A well organised rota will keep staff energised to provide high quality service and makes it easier for them to plan their festive activities.

Upsell Premium Products

Christmas is the time of year when customers want to celebrate and treat themselves. They are more willing to indulge in exciting drinks and festive desserts. This is the perfect occasion to upsell premium products. It is important staff are pushing high margin products in a way that highlights the variety of choices available. Emphasising a high-quality wine or specially selected dessert option is the simplest way to maximise spend per head. Failure to do so is a wasted opportunity and could potentially harm future profits too.

Make it a Memorable Experience

Focusing on high quality food and service is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom. As seen at the Propel Multi Club Conference this Autumn, exceptional food quality is the number one driver of people recommending a venue to family and friends. Christmas brings countless new people to pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality sites. This is the perfect opportunity to mitigate those January blues by converting these seldom-seen seasonals into year-round regulars. Making sure there are enough staff working will help to deliver a memorable experience that will keep customers returning long after the Christmas decorations are stashed away.

Reward Your Team!

Rewarding staff for working the festive period is crucial. Employees in hospitality sacrifice their own time with family and friends so guests can enjoy a special occasion. Plan an end of festive season event, such as drinks after a busy shift, to show staff how valued they are. It gives staff something to look forward to and appreciate words can have a huge impact on morale. Happy, motivated staff are much more likely to deliver exceptional service, earning valuable repeat custom into the spring and beyond.

The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.

S4Labour helps users schedule the optimal number of staff during busy periods. This allows its users to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business. Click here to find out more about the benefits of S4Labour.   

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