Consumers spent more on food and drink over the festive period than in 2018, figures have shown.

Pub, bar and restaurant groups saw collective like-for-like sales grow by 2.5 per cent over the six weeks of the festive season, compared to the same period in 2018, with food and drink spend both increasing, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Karl Chessell is director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM.

He said: "It has been a challenging year for the eating and drinking out market, so these figures will be a welcome boost for operators. Christmas and New Year is a vital time for the industry, so to see positive growth is good news.

"These results underline the fact that the public still wants to go out to enjoy themselves over the holiday period, but it also emphasises how important this time of year is to the health of the market, and that operators have to keep creating good reasons for people to go out."

Pub and bar groups were up 2.7 per cent on 2018 with drink-led pubs outdoing their food-led counterparts. Across the managed pub sector, drink sales were up 2.4 per cent, with food up 2.2 per cent.

Paul Newman, Head of Leisure and Hospitality at RSM said: "Operators will be celebrating a festive gift that ends a challenging year on a welcome high. Like-for-likes improved for both restaurants and wet-led businesses despite strong performance in the same period last year on top of the heavy rain and the political uncertainty affecting much of December.

"With consumer confidence finally improving, brands will look to carry this sales momentum into the New Year by capitalising on the trends for Veganuary and alcohol alternative drinks without resorting to heavy discounting."

Regionally, London traded slightly better than the rest of the country, with like-for-like sales across the capital up 2.7 per cent compared to 2.5 per cent outside the M25.