By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)
Monday saw the next phase of reopening, which allowed restaurants and bars to open their indoor dining and cinemas and theatres to wel- come back their customers after more than a year.
This phase of reopening is a big milestone for the United Kingdom’s recovery in the post-pandemic world. From Monday, theatres, cinemas, gyms, and museums have opened for Britons.The new restriction rules will now allow indoor drinking and dining, which will be replaced with the previous ones that allowed pubs, restaurants to operate in open areas only. According to hospitality data provider, CGA and consultants Alix Partners, eating inside the restaurant will change a lot of things, like customer spending.
A latest report by VoucherCodes.co.uk, Life after Covid, predicted that more than 104 million people will be visiting any of these hospitality venues this week and make most of the indoor settings, which has opened almost after a year.According to news reports, a record number of tables were reserved on Monday, almost 12% more than what it was
in July last year, when the restrictions were at the peak.The online booking service The Fork, which was initially called Bookatable, noted that 88% eating joints opened this Monday, whereas only 47% were active after the first stage of reopening on 12 April.
TheVoucherCodes.co.uk report estimated that on the opening day itself, 13.6 million visited the restaurants and would have spent altogeth- er £296.8 million first time in many months.
The report has further added that Friday and the weekend will be the busiest days as more than 16.1 million and 19 million, respectively, are expected to visit the restaurants hoping to spend between £389.1 mil- lion and £426.2 million each day. If we compare the spending with the 2019 figures before Covid-19, the venues are set to see a 34.8 per cent increase in business in just a week.The 2019 figures stood at £301.84 million.
The report has highlighted that despite the third lockdown and slump in overall business, the future is bright and can take a profitable turn in the coming months. It has stated the partial re-opening on 12 April and the period till 17 May, was a good start for the venues especially for the pubs and the sector in whole, which incurred whopping losses in last one year due to the pandemic and uncertainties around it.
According to CGA and the advisory firm AlixPartners, in this last one year of devastation, the hospitality industry saw 8,560 fewer licensed premises as of 30 April 2021, which is a fall of 7.4% from the numbers in March 2020.
As per the estimates of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), around 45,000 pubs in the UK have opened on Monday and have reported a sale of 3 million pints, which is still 65% lower than the pre- pandemic Mondays more than a year ago.
The VoucherCodes.co.uk report has predicted that with this opening and another scheduled on 21 June, the hospitality industry will make a 63.3% increase in sales as compared to the 2020 period, which will be more or less around £31.236 billion. By the end of this fiscal year, the sector is expected to earn £80.550 billion.
For 2022, the hospitality sector is expected to have an excellent year as people will be vaccinated and are expected to enjoy a year without any more restrictions or lockdowns.The sector is expected to see a sharp rise in sales of £120.564 billion by the end of 2022, almost 50% more than in 2021.
Angus Drummond, the senior director,VoucherCodes.co.uk, explained that Britons are known for their love for pubs, eateries and restaurants. If everything goes fine in the next few months, the sector is going to bounce back like never before.
Despite the third phase opening, some restrictions are mandatory for table service, a social distancing of at least 1 metre, use of face masks. The BBPA noted that there are still many pubs that still serve standing customers because of their small size, 5% of the total are closed despite the reopening.
The trade body UKHospitality has highlighted before that government support at this stage is very crucial and if removed, would disrupt businesses in the coming months. CEO Kate Nicholls said there is a notable pent-up demand and bookings, and sales look positive for the summer months. At present, removal of the government Covid-19 support measures will be problematic and may lead to closures and job losses.
The Boris Johnson government has extended a number of sops for the UK hospitality sector, like VAT cut to 5% and the furlough job support scheme till 30 September 2021.The UK has one of the highestVAT rates on the tourism and entertainments sectors.
Nicholls added that until all restrictions are lifted on 21 June, business- es cannot operate fully with the limitations on capacity, serving. The 21 June opening would see the opening of venues, like nightclubs, and removal of restrictions on larger events for the first time since the pandemic broke, killing millions of people across the world.