Scottish Hospitality Had ‘Worst December In Living Memory’

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), which represents Scotland’s hospitality industry have said takings in December were the worst “in living memory” and the start to 2021 has been the “worst start to the year ever”.

Figures from the group have revealed that hospitality businesses achieved just 20% of sales in December compared to an average year leading to a median loss of £12,000 per week, per premises.

December is traditionally the busiest time of the year for restaurants, bars and pubs however, continued restrictions due to the Covid pandemic prior to Christmas forced many businesses to remain closed.

On average, SHG claim businesses spent nearly £6,000 per week on fixed costs such as rents and in furlough scheme contributions.

Stephen Montgomery, spokesperson for the group, complained elected politicians have spent the new year “squabbling” rather than ensuring much-needed financial support is provided.

He said: “Without Christmas, when we earn around 30% of our entire annual income, most hospitality businesses just aren’t viable. We’ve had the worst December’s trading in living memory and we’re facing the worst start to a year ever.

“Instead of helping, our political leaders are squabbling with each other. It’s like arguing about who throws the lifebelt when someone’s already under water.

“The continued furlough scheme is welcome but it’s there to protect jobs rather than businesses, and we still have to pay all sorts of fixed costs.

“Even those businesses that survive will seriously struggle to recover this year. Not only is the support completely inadequate, in many cases what little is available hasn’t appeared months after it was promised.

Scotland’s first Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged the pressure on the sector, saying: “December was a horrendous month for hospitality, much of last year has been horrendous for hospitality, I think that is probably true of many other sectors and the population at large but hospitality has absolutely been at the sharp end.

“I always want to see things happen more quickly and I want to see the substantial amounts of money that we are rightly making available to businesses get to those businesses as soon as possible.