Pent up demand for meals and drinks out could have delivered as much as £15.9 billion to the UK economy when the industry reopened its doors on Wednesday (2 Dec), according to new research from the hospitality sector job board, Caterer.com. However, UKHospitality says the tighter tiered system will now stop 98% of England’s hospitality sector from doing business as usual at a cost of up to £7.8 billion.
The survey of more than 2,000 people reveals that after four weeks at home, the public is eager to return to hospitality venues with 11.1 million people hoping to go out more than they usually would during the festive season to make up for lost time.
As well as increased patronage, a quarter (24%) said they were planning to spend more than usual at hospitality venues. This means that a potential £5.1 billion could be spent on meals and a further £5.1 billion on drinks – if venues across the country were allowed to trade fully. Meanwhile 38% say they will tip more generously in December to support workers throughout this uncertain time. The increased patronage and tips would spell good news for hospitality staff, who could take home £573 million in tips during the festive season.
In addition, amid the increased uncertainty around new restrictions, more than 6.3 million people said they would forgo the traditional homecooked meal on Christmas Day for a restaurant dinner. Those in the South East have been named the UK’s biggest spenders – happy to pay £30 per person for their Christmas Day feast, followed by Londoners (£29.50) and those in the East Midlands (£21.20).
But while the return of loyal customers would have delivered a much-needed festive boost for the struggling industry, much of the sector now faces crisis amid a tighter tiered system and tougher restrictions. Rules preventing households from mixing indoors, allowing only venues that serve food to open, enforcing a 10pm last orders rules and instilling an 11pm curfew – will continue to cost the hospitality industry.
Neil Pattison, Director at Caterer.com, said: “It’s clear that the public is incredibly keen to get back to enjoying hospitality venues, but this analysis reveals just how damaging the new government restrictions will be for our sector. The impact of the tighter tiered system – which will force businesses in tier 3 to remain closed unless they offer takeaway, and only allow those that serve food to operate in tier 2 – will not only lead a multi-billion pound loss for the sector, but could force many thousands of our talented workforce to look elsewhere for work. We must see increased financial support from the Government immediately, and greater flexibility in restrictions that will allow businesses to continue to trade.”
“With so much uncertainty heading into the Christmas period, we have launched a free Career Advice Hub to offer hospitality workers support through this difficult time. Now more than ever, we need to support one another, and we are grateful to our partners for sharing their knowledge, insight and advice.”
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at UKHospitality, said: “The data confirms that hospitality can be the key to rebuilding the economy. There is clearly a huge demand amongst the public to socialise and enjoy themselves in safe, socially-distanced venues. This groundswell of support will be key to helping venues rebuild over the coming months. It also reinforces the need for a different approach to restrictions that unfairly and unjustifiably target hospitality businesses.”
Caterer.com has launched an online support and advice resource to help displaced hospitality workers find employment and support worker wellbeing and resilience. Created in partnership with Heads of Talent and HR at respected hospitality brands including Honest Burgers, The Ivy Collection and Home Grown Hotels, the new Caterer.com Career Advice Hub provides answers to jobseekers’ most asked questions in a range of short, accessible articles and videos. Topics include coping with redundancy, how to find the right job for you, understanding your skill set and maintaining wellbeing and confidence in the current climate and throughout the job seeking process.