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Will the sector feel the love this Valentine’s Day - Ed’s letter

The hospitality sector has been having a disappointing time of it when it comes to high-profile events, post pandemic. The World Cup was at the wrong time of year. Christmas party season featured far too much working from home and Christmas itself was mired in inflation and the need to prioritise heating over carousing.

Now Valentine’s Day is coming down the tracks and many restaurants will be hoping to cram as many tables as close to each other as possible in the hope of making up for lost revenue time. But will the wider sector start to feel the love this February 14th? And will it lead to a fulfilling long-term relationship?

The good news is that inflation at least is likely to come down - the OBR forecasts it falling to half of its peak by the end of this year, pulled down by interest rate increases, the easing of Covid-related supply chain bottlenecks and a drop in energy prices. In the case of the former, it is hoped that rate rises will not reach the levels where speculation drove them during the Liz Truss weeks.

Feeling warm and fuzzy yet? Sadly, until there is a cosier relationship with the EU, food price inflation is expected to clatter on upwards. Working in the opposite direction, the severing of that relationship was expected to keep people within the UK this summer, to avoid queues at the border when biometric checks came in, but that has now been pushed back to the end of the year. So taking with both hands there.

There was a tickle of hope. The current Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, suggested that the retired might like to leap back into the workforce. Those who hail back a bit will recall that B&Q had a lot of success getting rid of its retirement age and enjoying the years of accumulated experience that its team had to offer - particularly in the service elements. Is it time for the sector to look back to past lovers with a more favourable eye? Just maybe.


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