Hospitality sector worried about post-lockdown trade – industry urges government to help

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Results revealed today from a survey of hospitality businesses paint a gloomy picture of low trading expectations from operators in a sector that is the UK’s third highest employer.

The findings have prompted renewed calls from the trade body for urgent commitments from Government to extend support for the hospitality sector, as it examines the safest commercially viable route back to normality, safeguard businesses and more than one million jobs that are at risk.

The survey’s respondents overwhelmingly expect a very slow recovery in the second half of 2020, with a ‘worst-case scenario’ in December of trade down by a crippling 61 per cent for the same period last year, and a worrying best-case scenario of a 31 per cent decline.

The shorter-term outlook is yet more severe, with expectations for August 2020, a key month for hospitality and tourism, at between an astonishing 82 per cent and 53 per cent decline in trade.

This comes after UKH wrote to Cabinet Minister, Michael Gove MP, with a six-point plan to shore up the hopes of an achievable return to a healthy hospitality sector. It highlighted the unique needs of hospitality, urging longer-term commitments from Government on furloughs, rents, loans, insurance, regulations and stimuli for sector growth.

Commenting on the survey results, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, said: “A bleak outlook from hospitality operators should send shock waves across Government and the economy. Hospitality is a key economic force for the UK, with 3.2 million jobs reliant upon it in normal times.

“Social interaction is key to hospitality, so at a time when public health is rightly the Government’s top priority, it is essential that our sector is seen as a special case.

“For most venues, enforcing full social distancing is financially unviable, though we are undertaking substantial work to prepare for a return.

“The Government’s generous support measures so far have given many operators real hopes of survival – it would be a tragic waste of jobs and public funds if such businesses were to fall at the last, with the recovery rug pulled from beneath them.

“A continuation of business support is the only way to avoid carnage in hospitality, one of the UK economy’s jewels in the crown.”

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