Costa Coffee loses its froth as sales fall

Chain warns of subdued demand as shoppers shun high street and artisan rivals perk up

Britain’s biggest coffee shop chain, Costa Coffee, has suffered a fall in sales at its high street stores and warned consumer demand would remain “subdued”.

Costa’s owner, Whitbread, said like-for-like sales at its UK outlets had fallen 1.5% in the 13 weeks to 30 November. Costa Express machines, which are mainly in petrol stations and convenience stores, fared much better, with 6.7% underlying sales growth.

Like-for-like sales have become the benchmark in the City for judging the current performance of retailers. Typically represented as percentage growth rates, like-for-like sales measure sales at stores that have been open for at least a year, stripping out the impact of sales at newer stores. The idea is that they allow a more transparent comparison of a retailer’s sales performance over a certain period of time, when compared with the same period of time a year earlier.

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