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Hospitality suffers worst December ‘in living memory’

Scottish hospitality venues lost £12,000 (US$16,000) in revenue every week during the “worst December’s trading in living memory”, according to a trade group.

Hospitaluy venues in Scotland took 20% of their 2020 revenue in the festive period

A trading update from the Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) found that its members took in just 20% of their 2020 earnings during the festive period due to Covid-19 restrictions. In previous years, bars would often earn 30% of their annual takings during December.

On average, venues missed out on £12,000 per week, which SHG said will impact payments for property rent, utilities and equipment rent ‘until at least the summer’. The drop in revenue will also impact suppliers, investors and ‘others who depend on the industry’.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for SHG, said: “Without Christmas, when we earn around 30% of our entire annual income, most hospitality businesses just aren’t viable. We’ve had the worst December’s trading in living memory and we’re facing the worst start to a year ever. Instead of helping, our political leaders are squabbling with each other. It’s like arguing about who throws the lifebelt when someone’s already under water.

“The continued furlough scheme is welcome but it’s there to protect jobs rather than businesses, and we still have to pay all sorts of fixed costs. Even those businesses that survive will seriously struggle to recover this year. Not only is the support completely inadequate, in many cases what little is available hasn’t appeared months after it was promised.”

According to the SHG, businesses continued to spend on average of nearly £6,000 (US$8,100) every week per site on fixed costs and contributions during lockdown.

In response to renewed restrictions on businesses across Scotland and England, which came into force earlier this week, the UK government will give grants of up to £9,000 (US$12,000) to hospitality firms. However, the measures were described as a “sticking plaster” solution by trade group UK Hospitality.

Montgomery added: “We will soon be proposing specific, realistic measures that both governments can introduce so we’ve got a fighting chance of getting back on our feet by next year. First of all though, we need them to grow up and start working together so that the hospitality sector still exists to drive our economic recovery once the virus is under better control.”

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