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Pubs and restaurants lost more than £10,000 each in week before Christmas
29 December 2021, 15:58
Pubs, bars and restaurants each lost more than £10,000 in the week before Christmas amid rising concerns around the Omicron coronavirus variant.
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The new data from trade body UKHospitality showed a 60% drop in sales on Christmas Day compared with 2019.
Trading had been close to pre-pandemic levels prior to the emergence of the Omicron variant, at around 98%.
The average loss per venue was £10,335, as punters cancelled bookings and restricted social outings in the lead up to Christmas.
Venues have been told by Chancellor Rishi Sunak they can recoup up to £6,000 of lost revenue, but this is well below the average loss.
London and city-centre areas across the UK were the hardest hit by the drop in revenue.
But landlords in Wales and Scotland are despairing at the impact of limits on New Year celebrations on top of their Christmas losses.
Chelly Jones, who runs the Stanton House Inn in Chirk, Wrexham, with her husband, said she has cancelled the live entertainment they had planned for New Year's Eve because of the new rules.
She said: "Christmas has been a disaster, we've never had a year like it.
"The week before Christmas, the new restrictions in Wales killed our profits. They kept us open, but shut us really. We're a family-run pub so it's very difficult at the moment."
Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinneyurged people not to cross the border to take advantage of looser Covid-19 restrictions in England.
Mr Swinney said it is legally permitted for people to travel to England to take part in celebrations there, but this would not be in "the spirit of the rules we are putting forward".
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "Hospitality businesses have been hit hard during a key trading period - and this 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 or the tougher measures in Scotland and Wales be retained into 2022."
Ms Nicholls yesterday said the decision to not go beyond Plan B measures in England presented a "lifeline" for the sector.
However, tighter restrictions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland represent a threat to the industry, with Scottish venues having to maintain a metre distance between groups, with each group only being made up of a maximum of three households.
Sales for hospitality venues in December are around three months' worth of trading according to UKHospitality.
Both Scotland and Wales have announced mandatory table service in establishment serving alcohol.
Adam Brooks, landlord of The Owl Public House and The Three Colts pubs spoke to LBC earlier this month.
He urged the government not to put any further restrictions on hospitality venues.
"How are we going to go forward in life if every time a country announces a new variant, we’re scared what our government will do?"
I think there’s a lot of people, especially in hospitality, that fear the government more than the virus at the moment and that really shouldn’t be the case."
He added: "When the pubs, the bars and the restaurants suffer: everyone suffers."