(Sharecast News) – Tightening restrictions to stem Covid-19 infections caused Christmas misery for Britain’s pubs and restaurants as sales plunged, a survey showed.
Revenue dropped 73% in the five weeks to 3 January from a year before at managed pubs, bars and restaurants, according to the Coffer Peach business tracker.
Drink-led pubs and bars were worst-hit, losing 84% and 87% of sales respectively. Food-led pubs and pub restaurants were down 78% and sales at group-owned restaurants fell 58%, helped by deliveries.
The UK’s hospitality industry had been hoping to recoup some of the business lost during the first coronavirus lockdown in what is traditionally the trade’s busiest period but the government imposed tougher tiered restrictions for English businesses in the runup to Christmas before imposing a fresh lockdown in early January.
Just over half the UK’s pubs and restaurants were trading after November’s partial lockdown but by the end of December less than 10% were open.
“The tier system had already kept pubs and restaurants across large parts of the country closed from the start of the month, but the escalation of measures saw the sector effectively grind to a total standstill by the end of December, even before January’s return to complete lockdown,” said Karl Chessell, director of survey compiler CGA.
The industry has complained about the government’s unpredictable actions and called for more help to stop viable businesses going under with current restrictions set to last for months. Jonathan Neame, the boss of brewer and pub landlord Shepherd Neame, has talked of his anger at the “soul destroying” treatment of the industry by the government.
David Coffer, managing director of Coffer Group, said businesses unable to trade would soon face debts related to taxes, rates insurance and business loan repayments.
“Altogether a tsunami of debt which needs to be dealt with from a standing start,” Coffer said. “How our sector, and indeed others, manage this predicament will be more than a challenge.”