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Pub group shares sink as snow hits consumer spend

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Shares in several London-listed pub groups fell today after new research showed spending in the sector has slowed.

As part of its report on consumer spending which was released this morning, Barclaycard noted that pub and restaurant spending was growing at one of the slowest rates since 2011.

Growth in restaurants slowed to 7.2 per cent in March, down from 9.7 per cent in February, while pub spending dropped to 7.7 per cent from 10 per cent.

Analysts said that the slowdown was almost entirely due to poor weather conditions.

Read more: London pubs hit by closures as campaigners call for tax breaks

Shares in pub giant JD Wetherspoon were down 1.3 per cent after lunch, while Greene King fell 0.5 per cent.

But the worst-hit groups were Marston's and O'Neill's owner Mitchells & Butlers, as Barclays analysts said their balance sheets were "stretched" and free cash flow was weaker.

Marston's was down three per cent after midday while M&B was one of the biggest fallers on the main market, down 4.65 per cent at 250p.

But premium pub groups Fuller, Smith & Turner and City Pub Company remained steady, while shares in the UK's largest pub company Ei Group rose 1.1 per cent.

Read more: Two pubs have closed every day in the UK since business rates went up

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