North's hospitality businesses report festive boost in trading

Hospitality business owners in the north reported a festive boost in trading over the Christmas period
Gareth McKeown

HOSPITALITY business owners in the north reported a festive boost in trading over the Christmas period, according to a new survey.

The research, carried out by Hospitality Ulster in the first week of January and covering its members across the pub, hotel and restaurant industries, shows a strong uplift in business in comparison to Christmas last year.

More than 60 per cent of business owners reported an increase in beverage sales compared to 2017, with almost a third (29 per cent) seeing an uplift in sales of over 10 per cent.

Food sales also jumped over Christmas, with half (51 per cent) of respondents recording an increase in 2018 trade and almost a quarter (22 per cent) stating this was by over 10 per cent.

Improvement was not reported across the board however, as between 20 and 26 per cent of business owners surveyed reported a fall in both food and drink sales during the festive period in comparison to last year.

Hospitality Ulster chief executive, Colin Neill described the figures as "heartening" in what has been a difficult year for businesses in the north.

“The positive survey results demonstrate a clear resilience in the industry and a willingness to adapt and plan ahead with great offers of food, drink and entertainment put on over the festive season," he said.

“I think the fact that trade was up for many members shows that people really do enjoy the experience of a night out. We are seeing a boom in craft products like gin and beer, where people enjoy sampling a wide range of different types of drinks. We have also seen a sharp increase in non-alcoholic spirits and beers. Customers are seeking the overall experience, rather than just the product.

“Food sales continue to grow and again that comes down to the wide and growing range on offer out there, right across Northern Ireland."

“It is worth noting however, that this upturn hasn't been the case across the board and there are still many business owners facing an uphill struggle, particularly as we enter what is to be a very precarious year for business in Northern Ireland," Mr Neill added.

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