Published: Oct 19, 2020
The festive season is the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by. It’s a time to celebrate achievements and life goals. More importantly, it’s a time to celebrate with loved ones and colleagues while spirits are high.
Sadly with the UK’s new safety measures in action, many hotels and restaurants continue to be slammed by a wave of cancellations as new coronavirus restrictions throw the country’s Christmas celebrations into more doubt.
As the cold night’s approach and various local lockdowns emerge, the hospitality industry continues its uphill battle. The Prime Minister reiterates that things are set to be “bumpy through to Christmas” so naturally there are lingering fears surrounding the steep absence of restaurant and bar bookings when Christmas finally rolls around.
Put simply, thousands of businesses are at risk of losing billions of pounds in profit this year. Research shows 45% of British consumers do not feel comfortable about visiting on-trade venues for festive celebrations amid the coronavirus pandemic. So how is this likely to further affect the hospitality industry when we should be celebrating?
At the start of October, sales at bars, pubs and restaurants plunged by more than a third compared to last year. The new 10pm curfew imposed across the UK has led to anger from businesses that will likely call for the government to reconsider this measure. Critics suggest closures are pushing large crowds elsewhere and are causing more extreme economic damage. If still in place by Christmas, this curfew restriction will raise a fresh series of setbacks in many parts of the country. Analysts dictate the absence of spending along with earlier curfews for hospitality will drastically damage businesses this year, and for many more to come.
Understandably, most places rely on Christmas bookings and work parties to bring solid income. The crucial weeks of socialising in the run-up to both the festive season and new year are vital to sustaining Britain’s pubs, restaurants and hotels. Some venues bank as much as 40% of their annual profits between Halloween and January. With little or no spending in shops, on christmas parties or family get-togethers this year, this could ultimately cost retailers billions of pounds in lost clothing and food sales.
If some restaurants, bars and hotels decide to go ahead with parties, 45% of people say the most important factor for choosing a venue for festive celebrations will be the level of COVID-19 safety precautions in place. With many people out of jobs or have no job security, a large amount of uncertainty remains on whether people have much disposable income available to support the economy.
This unfortunate situation will also see many ice rinks, Christmas markets, winter-themed events and pop ups closed this year - with the most devastating blow coming from UK pantomimes which enter a critical stage of the year. A large number of venues suggest their annual loss this year for pantomimes provide almost 50% of their annual income.
In hope of positive news, while research shows that consumers are nervous about stepping into venues, over a fifth have said that they felt hopeful about visiting on-trade venues during this year’s festive period, indicating there is fresh optimism yet to be seen. This further means places need to become more innovative in ways of making money, while still limiting social interaction.
Considering hearsay talk of lifting the social gatherings ban this Christmas, we must understand that the most important aspect right now is to stay safe. We may not be able to hug our nearest and dearest this festive time - and like the industry as a whole, we may have to make alternative plans. Christmas might look to be something from a dystopian future; with yet another Zoom gathering while carving the turkey and opening gifts. But in reality these new changes will wholeheartedly make us appreciate our time spent with friends and family next year, hoping all things in the UK are safe and well.
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