Almost 50% of hospitality staff remain on furlough, study finds

Approximately 43% of the hospitality workforce remains on the government’s furlough scheme, according to new research from hospitality software provider Fourth

The latest joint study indicates that many hospitality workers’ jobs “hang in the balance”, and that nationwide footfall is falling again, despite the momentum generated by August’s Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme. The study also found that:

  • There has been an 18% drop in overall staff headcount compared to September last year. This equates to 500,000 people, or almost one in five, losing their job in the sector since January

  • UK footfall dropped to 46% below the pre-COVID average on the weekend of 3rd October – a 4 percentage point decrease compared to the previous weekend

Fourth’s data, which has been aggregated from analysis of over 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors, reveals that the pub sector workforce was 15% lower in September, compared to the previous year. Quick service restaurants saw a 16% drop, and restaurants fell further, with a 19% drop. 

The hotel sector had the greatest fall in headcount compared to September last year, with a 20% reduction.

The total number of hours worked across the sector in September was 20,283,957, which is in line with the hours recorded in August – but 48% down when compared to September last year. 

It also revealed that the pub sector saw an 8% reduction in hours worked compared to August, while restaurant hours were down by 2%. The QSR and hotel sectors recorded higher levels of activity compared to August, increasing by 3% and 6% respectively.

Wireless Social’s footfall data also indicates there was a drop-off in traffic over the course of September, with the national average tracking at 39% below the pre-Covid level on Saturday 5 September, compared to 42% below the average on Saturday 26 September. 

The weekend of 3 October registered the lowest figures since early August, coming in at 46% below average levels.

The data also provides insight into regions that have been placed under local lockdowns and the impact that this has had on hospitality footfall. Visitor traffic in Liverpool dropped to 60% below the pre-Covid average on Saturday 3rd October, the lowest footfall has been since the hospitality sector began reopening in July. 

This was mirrored by Manchester where traffic was 55% below the average over the same weekend.

Sebastien Sepierre, MD – EMEA, Fourth, said: “September has been incredibly tough for hospitality businesses, as the sector has been hit by further challenging restrictions that have impacted trading and consumer confidence. The fact that nearly half of the workforce remain on furlough, with the closure of the scheme on 31 October is concerning.

“However, this is an extremely innovative and resilient sector, and it’s vital that operators continue to think and act dynamically, particularly around the way they schedule labour to ensure they have the right number of team members in place, to deliver guests the experience they expect.”

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