Pubs have continued to see unexpected growth in sales following sunny weather in September, new figures have shown.

Collective like-for-like sales have grown by 1.9 per cent – but restaurant groups continued to see a decline of 0.2 per cent on September 2017.

Drink sales were the main reason for growth across the pub sector with claims that the warmer weather played a role in an uplift.

Food-led operators still struggled from tougher trading conditions while spirts and craft beers dominated the growth end of the wet-led part of the market.

Additionally, London was the main reason for overall growth, outperforming the rest of the country with like-for-like sales ahead two per cent against the lower 0.9 per cent outside of the M25 area.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, said: "While food-led operators continue to face tougher trading conditions, the wet-led end of the market is trading strongly.

"Growth in the traditional pub market is being fuelled by the premiumisation of drinks offers, with craft beers, artisan spirits and cocktails driving sales up by 1.9 per cent compared to a year ago. We see this trend continuing in the all-important run-up to Christmas."

Karl Chessell, director at insight firm CGA who undertook the survey with Coffer Group and RSM, said: "As ever, the good weather played a big role, and although restaurants as a whole failed to benefit, it provided an overall boost for the out-of-home market as the public were tempted out."

"London pubs and bars also had the best of the trading with like-for-likes up three per cent. It's also worth noting that within those national numbers, food sales were flat, with drink sales up three per cent" added Chessell.

Total sales growth across the whole pub and restaurant sector was 3.5 per cent.

Underlying like-for-like growth for the 49 companies in the survey, which represents both large and small groups, was running at 0.6 per cent for the 12 months to the end of September - virtually the same as August and July – revealing the eating and drinking out market remains consistently flat.