Restaurants and bars ‘lost average of £10,000 in week before Christmas’
Restaurants and bars, including those in Sheffield, are struggling to cope with the impact of Omicron and just £6,000 in support from the Government.
Pubs, bars and restaurants across the country lost £10,335 on average in the week leading up to Christmas, according to new data.
On Christmas Day takings were down 60 per cent compared with 2019, new figures from industry body UKHospitality, which looked at hospitality venues nationwide, found.
And the average losses are above the maximum £6,000 cash grants offered to each affected venue by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of his £1 billion fund announced last week.
Following Mr Sunak’s announcement of the grants, business owners in Sheffield slammed the proposals, saying it was ‘not even a drop in the ocean’.
And others criticised the Government’s ‘wishy washy advice’ around whether or not people should socialise and go out in the week before Christmas.
Rather than giving a definite answer, official advice was to ‘be cautious’ and ‘work from home if possible’ – placing responsibility in the hands of businesses and individuals which led to many cancellations for the hospitality sector.
According to UKHospitality, across the country city centre and London venues were hardest hit.
In the weeks prior to Omicron emerging average sales had been at 98 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, leading many to hope for a successful festive period before the 60 per cent drop occurred.
December is typically equal to three months’ worth of trading, UKHospitality said, meaning the recovery in the sector and the economy more broadly could now take far longer as a result of the latest variant.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses have been hit hard during a key trading period – and this after missing out on the crucial Christmas and New Year sales last year.
“Restrictions must be kept to a minimum and must be lifted as quickly as possible to help an already beleaguered sector or many will simply not survive – and those who do make it through face a return to 20 per cent VAT in April.
“In order to help the industry recover and return to growth, the Government must commit to keeping VAT at 12.5 per cent and offering enhanced rates relief.