The reopening of pubs indoors last month has been hampered by the continuation of Government restrictions on the hospitality sector, particularly social distancing, which has resulted in a 20% slump in trade compared with pre-lockdown levels. This fall has come in spite of the reopening of between 90-95% of pubs since May 17th, although the cost of a pint has increased in many pubs. The Guardian has the story.
Pub owners have warned that despite welcoming customers back indoors from May 17th, and a boom in table bookings for restaurants and bars, turnover in the first week of reopening was 20% lower than in the same week in 2019 because of Government restrictions and physical distancing measures.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), which carried out the survey of publicans representing 7,000 pubs across the country, said the Government’s rules to limit the spread of the coronavirus had continued to make the businesses “unviable”.
Drinks sales initially soared to almost double the pre-pandemic when pubs first opened for business again in April outdoors, according to industry data, but the pub industry has blamed physical distancing measures for the punters’ muted response to the reopening of indoor spaces.
Under the Government’s current rules, pubs are limited to providing table service to limited group sizes of up to six people and cannot allow punters to drink at the bar or standing. They are also required to keep people at least one metre apart and ensure face masks are worn at all times, except when outdoors or seated inside.
The BBPA has warned that unless restrictions are removed in line with the Government’s June 21st timeline, the average pub would need to sell more than 24,672 extra pints over a year to make up for their loss in turnover.
The pub association’s survey revealed that across the week of May 17th turnover was at 80% of the same period in 2019 despite 95% of U.K. pubs, or about 45,000 venues, reopening to trade. The association estimates that if trade continues to stay at 80% of normal, the average pub would lose £94,000 in turnover over a year.
Emma McClarkin, the Chief Executive of the BBPA, warned that turnover may even fall further if the early enthusiasm to return to the local pub begins to wane because of the coronavirus restrictions.
It is a big blow to the industry, therefore, that the Government is considering keeping social distancing guidelines in place after the June 21st “Freedom Day”.
Worth reading in full.