Britain’s pubs, bars, and restaurants had their best December sales in three years despite train strikes that wreaked havoc on festive plans, though optimism for the sector may be short-lived. 

Sales in December were 15% higher on a like-for-like basis than a year earlier, when the omicron variant of the coronavirus dampened social outings, according to the Coffer CGA Business Tracker of managed hospitality groups. Pub sales were particularly strong last month, helped by the football World Cup. 

“The headwinds facing the leisure and hospitality sector show little immediate signs of abating as consumer budgets are tightened further,” said Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK. “The cost of energy, borrowing, and labor remain elevated.”

December’s sales were only 2% higher than the same period in 2019 and were significantly behind when adjusted for double-digit inflation, according to the report.