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Train strikes could cost hospitality £3.25bn

Rail strikes this week are expected to cost the UK hospitality industry £132 million (US$164m), bringing the total impact on the sector to £3.25 billion (US$4bn).

UK train strikes
Train workers are due to strike again during May and June

Members of trade union Aslef are planning industrial action tomorrow (Wednesday 31 May) and Saturday 3 June as part of a pay dispute. Meanwhile trade union RMT will stage a strike on Friday 2 June.

The eye-watering figures were revealed by trade body UK Hospitality, which previously warned that the combined rail and tube strikes in March could cost the on-trade £600m (US$727.9m) in lost sales.

Strike action has been ongoing since 2022, with the most recent action held on 13 May, the day of the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.

The latest strikes coincide with the week-long half-term school holidays and the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United on 3 June.

UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The May half term normally represents a bumper week for hospitality, with typically sunny weather encouraging families to head out on activities, visits and staycations.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen time and time again that rail strikes put a significant dampener on any sales as visitors are deterred from booking visits or eating and drinking out. This time around that means families staying at home and football fans travelling to the capital for the FA Cup final disrupted.”

Nicholls called for a resolution to the dispute as soon as possible.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said this week’s strike action could cause the night-time and events industries to lose more than £200m (US$248m) in revenue across the three days.

Michael Kill, NTIA CEO, warned the industry would be “crippled by industrial action”.

“With the summer festival and events season just getting underway, some festivals are suggesting strike action could have a substantial impact on the season, with some suggesting it could take them to breaking point,” he continued.

“Businesses are suffering heavily with recent figures, showing a 40% increase in operating costs and a 15% downturn in trade, alongside interest rate rises and financial support drying up from government.”

“The difficult trading environment coupled with further strike action expected to last until the end of the summer will stretch most business owners’ resilience.”

Train strikes in March caused a double-digit decline for spirits sales in the UK on-trade over a week-long period, according to data from CGA.

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