Hospitality Sector Recovering At Glacial Pace With UK Shifts Still 68.9% Down Since Pre-Lockdown

The hospitality industry is missing out on a crucial post-lockdown renaissance as it limps back to life, analysis by income streaming provider Wagestream reveals today.

The UK hospitality sector has been floored by the coronavirus pandemic but hopes of a swift return to normality are being dashed, with shift numbers still down 68.9% on pre-lockdown levels, new analysis shows1.

Even in England, where pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes have been able to open since July 4, the number of shifts carried out by workers is still down 58.3%.

The whole of the UK went into lockdown on March 23 but the rules on reopening have varied in Wales and Scotland. Welsh pubs, cafes and restaurants have only been able to reopen outdoors since July 13 and in Scotland they were only permitted to open indoors from July 15. In Scotland, the number of shifts being worked is still down 73% since before lockdown.

Unable to continue normal trading, many hospitality firms turned to takeaway and delivery services once they were unable to open. But the sector hit rock bottom in early April, by which time the number of shifts had dropped 98% compared to normal.

Wagestream analysed shift data for tens of thousands of workers for the weekend of the 18th-19th July compared with the 21st-22nd March 2020, the weekend just before the UK lockdown began. This shows that the number of shifts being offered to staff is only increasing at a rate of 3% per week, raising fears that the recovery is not accelerating and underlining the existential threat faced by the industry.

The vast majority of hospitality workers were furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Wagestream has responded to the Covid-19 crisis by making its income streaming service free to the NHS and its staff, as well as speeding up the client on-boarding process from three weeks to just 24 hours.

Peter Briffett, CEO and of Wagestream, commented:

“The hospitality industry was uniquely susceptible to the Covid-19 crisis and it is in desperate need of our support.

“Pubs and restaurants must stage a dramatic fight back if they are to survive but they can only do that if people are willing to get back out there and spend. We know that the vast majority of pubs, bars and restaurants have moved heaven and Earth to make it business as usual as far as the comfort, safety and enjoyment of guests is concerned and we really hope they are rewarded for that in the weeks to come.

“The Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which starts in August, is a fantastic way of encouraging people to support these firms. It will hopefully help put the afterburners on and drive more footfall to UK hospitality venues.”