UK brewer and pub operator Marston's, which owns the Pedigree and Hobgoblin brands among others, has said that like-for-like sales for the 16 weeks ended January 12 came in 3.9% lower than pre-pandemic levels.
The company, which operates more than 1,400 pubs, breweries and inns across England, Scotland and Wales, said its like-for-like sales in the last eight weeks fell 8.8% compared with 2019 numbers, with overall revenue in the 16-week period dropping 3.6%.
Government advice for people to work from home and limit social contacts in preparation for an Omicron winter left social venues like pubs and restaurants largely empty in what would have otherwise been one of their busiest periods.
"While the emergence of the Omicron variant and subsequent government guidance temporarily impacted consumer sentiment, we remain confident that the strong trading momentum, which we were experiencing prior to that, will resume," Marston's chief executive officer Andrew Andrea said in a statement.
The company's performance was in line with that of rival Mitchells & Butlers, which earlier this month also flagged disruptions due to the Omicron-fuelled restrictions. Brewer C&C Group also reported lower-than-expected volumes due to COVID measures.
The easing of restrictions in Scotland and Wales, which followed on from the easing of restrictions in England, is allowing "some semblance of normalised trading patterns" to return, Andrea added.
“Indeed, there is growing evidence over the most recent of weeks of the New Year that consumer confidence is rebuilding, and guests are returning to our pubs in greater numbers, which is encouraging," he said.