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On-trade sales drop 60% on Christmas Day

Pubs, bars and restaurants lost £10,335 (US$14,000) on average in the week leading up to 25 December due to fears over the omicron variant, according to UK Hospitality.

The UK hospitality sector has seen a significant drop in footfall due to the emergence of omicron

On Christmas Day 2021, sales in pubs, bars and restaurants plummeted by 60% compared to 2019, new figures from trade body UK Hospitality revealed.

In the weeks before the new Covid-19 variant emerged, average sales in the on-trade had been close to pre-pandemic levels (98%), the group found.

City centres and venues in London have been the worst affected by the new work from home guidelines, the drop in consumer confidence, and footfall.

Work from home guidance and the requirement for an NHS Covid Pass or negative lateral flow test to enter nightclubs were part of UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s ‘Plan B’ measures in England, which came into force in December 2021.

December is usually the busiest time of year for hospitality, generating revenue equal to three months of trading, UK Hospitality said. As such, the sector’s recovery will be pushed back by at least the same amount of time, the trade body warned.

Furthermore, ONS figures showed GDP growth in the third quarter of 2021 was led by the hospitality sector as restrictions were eased in July.

UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses have been hit hard during a key trading period – and this is 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% VAT in April.

“In order to help the industry recover and return to growth, the government must commit to keeping VAT at 12.5% and offering enhanced rates relief. Further support will also be needed should additional restrictions be imposed, if the tougher measures in Scotland and Wales are to be be retained into 2022.”

Last month, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a fresh round of grants to help the on-trade, of up to £6,000 (US$7,966) per venue, amounting to £1 billion (US$1.33bn) in additional support.

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