Covid-19 halves 2020 sales in UK on-trade

3rd February, 2021 by Owen Bellwood

Sales across the UK hospitality sector fell 54% in 2020 as the industry faced its ‘worst year of trading on record’, according to a new report.

UK bar sales fell 54% in 2020

The latest edition of the UK Hospitality and CGA Quarterly Tracker found that the UK’s on-trade sales collapsed from £133.5 billion (US$182bn) in 2019 to £61.7bn (US$84bn) in 2020.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: “These figures are simply devastating; hospitality was hit first, hit hardest and continues to suffer because of pandemic restrictions brought in. And sitting behind this massive loss of revenue is the dreadful, real impact on people’s lives and livelihoods across all parts of the sector and supply chain.”

A recent report found that 6,000 licensed premises in Britain had been forced to close permanently as a result of restrictions implemented to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The UK is currently in its third lockdown, which has forced hospitality venues to shut, with the exception of providing food and drinks for takeaway and home delivery.

Phil Tate, group chief executive of CGA, said: “This is the clearest evidence yet of the shattering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country’s hospitality industry.

“With every week of restrictions, the sector loses more than a billion pounds of sales, hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs. Widespread closures over December, the busiest time of year for so many restaurants, pubs and bars, were a devastating final blow in a year of unprecedented challenges.”

‘Worst year on record’

The findings led UK Hospitality to brand 2020 ‘the worst year of trading on record’ for the drinks industry. As a result, the trade body is calling on the government to further support the sector.

UK Hospitality has called for an extension of a value added tax (VAT) cut and the implementation of a further business rates holiday for hospitality.

Nicholls added: “Put simply, hospitality is battling for survival. Our sector has been the hardest hit sector by the pandemic and is staring into the abyss. But if the right conditions and support are put in place, we could be justifiably optimistic of the future role hospitality can play in returning the country to growth and boosting employment.

“The VAT cut and business rates holiday were two key measures that government correctly identified in 2020 that would stimulate economic activity and assist businesses. With subsequent lockdowns and restrictions many in hospitality have been unable to recoup the intended benefits.

“Extending these measures would act as a critical revival system – saving many jobs and setting up the economy for much need job creation for the rest of the year.”

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