Hospitality Hit By ‘At Home’ Christmas Plans Amid Continuing Threat Of Rail Strikes, RSM Reveals

Four out of ten consumers plan to spend less on socialising this Christmas with household budgets squeezed by high interest rates and sticky inflation impacting festivities this year, according to a recent survey from RSM UK.

A survey of 1,000 consumers showed that 41% plan to cut back on socialising this Christmas which would be a significant blow to the hospitality sector during its busiest time of year.

Bars and restaurants are also competing with ‘at home’ entertaining as the top areas that consumers plan to spend more on are Christmas dinners (25%), food and drink at home (24%), and presents (23%).

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM UK, said: ‘December is such a key trading month for hospitality but economic headwinds are dampening festive plans. Cuts to corporate funded Christmas parties combined with consumers switching focus to a wholesome ‘at home’ Christmas could see spending in pubs and restaurants hit hard this year.

‘Transport strikes cost bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels in the UK an estimated £1.5bn in December alone last year and proved to be the final “nail in the coffin” for many businesses still reeling after Covid. A festive trading period free of travel disruptions is critical if businesses are to survive through the quieter trading months of 2024.

‘However, the prospect of consumers tightening their purse strings on socialising this Christmas, the continuing threat from rail strikes and the looming end to business rates support in March will come together to create considerable financial strain on businesses in the months ahead. The Chancellor needs to step up and use the Autumn Statement to provide renewed support for the hospitality sector which could otherwise see a swathe of jobs being lost in the New Year.’