In Brief

Punters staying away from England’s reopened pubs and restaurants, new data shows

Sales down by about 40% year-on-year in fresh blow for hospitality industry following easing of lockdown

Hopes of a post-lockdown boom for England’s pubs are draining away as customers continue to stay away from reopened bars and restaurants nationwide.

According to a new survey, 70% of pubs or pub restaurants are back in business following the easing of social distancing measures at the start of this month, along with 42% of bars and 17% of restaurants, The Guardian reports.  

But pubs that were open as of 6 July are reporting a 39% year-on-year decline in sales, on average, while business at bars is down by 43% and at restaurants by 40%.

However, business insight consultancy CGA, which collected the tracker data from 44 major pub, restaurant and bar operators, insists the long-term outlook for the sector is encouraging.

“Trading at almost 60% of pre-Covid norms is actually a better performance than many other markets internationally, such as the US, experienced on reopening,” said CGA director Karl Chessell.

“The sector still has a long way to go, but this sets the benchmark against which the speed of recovery will be judged,” he added.  

All the same, pubs and restaurants are facing a range of new challenges. Hospitality bosses have warned of a “privacy minefield” resulting from new coronavirus contact-tracing requirements. 

And Covid-19 poses a continuing threat, with at least three pubs forced to close again just days after the 4 July reopening of sector, because customers had tested positive for the virus, as Sky News reported at the time.

Although the easing of the social distancing restrictions has boosted the UK’s economy, official data shows that consumer spending “remains depressed”, adds the Financial Times.

“The hospitality sector employs 1.8 million people across the UK, most of whom have been furloughed during the lockdown and could lose their jobs if sales do not recover fast enough,” says the newspaper.

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