But challenges remain.
Nearly 12,000 hospitality venues could finally open on 'Freedom Day', but challenges remain for the sector
Around 12,000 of Britain’s licensed premises are finally able to reopen on Monday (19 July) when COVID-19 restrictions on hospitality venues are lifted, according to the latest data from the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.
The Monitor shows that, while just under 89% of all known UK hospitality venues were open by the end of June 2021, 11,928 sites have yet to reopen and the hope is that many of these will do so on the 19 July.
The lifting of remaining restrictions is significant for the late night-market, which is one of the last remaining hospitality sectors to have been given the go-ahead to reopen. Sports and social clubs are also set to benefit, having been hard hit by social distancing requirements. Nearly one third (31.2%) of large and late-night venues and more than one fifth (22.9%) of sports and social clubs were still closed as of the end of June 2021. The lifting of remaining COVID-19 restrictions also brings welcome news for the independent sector, where 11,092 licensed premises remained shut as of the end of June.
Yet, with the latest data from the Monitor indicating that in net terms, we have lost 25 hospitality venues per day since June 2020, significant challenges lie ahead. At the end of June 2021, Britain had around 106,000 licensed premises—more than 9,000 venues less than the total number of venues in June 2020. This equates to an 8% contraction of the market in just 12 months.
CGA research indicates that hospitality industry sales have been broadly modest this year, with many businesses struggling with rising costs, staff shortages and fragile consumer confidence.
Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “After a hugely difficult 16 months for hospitality, and an unwelcome extra four-week delay until ‘freedom day’, it will be a huge relief to see many more sites open. But with so many venues still closed and restrictions still in place, it will be a very anxious wait to see how many are able to reopen. Hospitality has already lost more than 9,000 sites during the COVID-19 crisis, and sustained government support is essential to prevent further damage.”
Craig Rachel, AlixPartners’ director, said: “While Freedom Day will be welcomed by many operators in the late-night market, it certainly does not signal the end of the challenges for those businesses and the wider sector. Operators face a summer of dealing with recruitment difficulties and staff absences due to self-isolation, combined with the tapering away of Government support and tackling huge levels of debt. It promises to be a long road to recovery for hospitality.”
The August edition of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners will reveal the level of reopening of Britain’s licensed premises, with detailed analysis of trends by market segment, region and tenure.