A new report from UKHospitality and CGA has revealed the scale of impact Covid has had on the hospitality sector, and outlines what the industry can do to recover both sales and consumer confidence.
According to the trade bodies, “rigorous” safety measures, industry collaboration and government support can “speed the sector along the road to recovery”.
The latest Future Shock series of reports from both groups provides the “most detailed picture yet” of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on hospitality, and what businesses must do to boost recovery.
The report highlights that the hospitality sector accounted for a third of the UK’s entire drop in GDP in March and April, and that only 16% of industry leaders are optimistic about the market over the next 12 months.
In addition, it reveals that 23% of consumers are only returning to venues with caution, while 33% are only doing so if they are adamant that added precautions were in place, adding that it may be a “challenge” to bring people back to hospitality.
Nonetheless, it also identified “green shoots of recovery”, and uses insights from CGA’s research in China and the US to predict “crucial changes” in consumer habits that will likely shape the sector over the next few months.
This includes a growing consumer preference to use local venues, an increasing desire to book in advance ahead, as well as an “emerging polarisation” between the value and premium ends of the market.
Karl Chessell, business unit director, Retail and Food at CGA, said: “The last four months has been the most difficult period of trading that most of us in the industry have ever seen.
“CGA’s data shows how the pandemic caused a sudden and dramatic downturn in sales and had a seismic effect on consumer behaviour, and the big question now is how quickly the market can recover.”
He added: “There are clearly many tough challenges ahead, but with the backing of consumers and the right support from the government, businesses can not just survive the pandemic but thrive in the happier times that lie ahead.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO at UKHospitality, said: “There is still a huge amount of graft to be done if we are to make it through this crisis in one piece, but if any sector can emerge stronger it is hospitality.
“We have pushed – and will continue to push – hard to persuade UK governments to provide as much support as possible to keep businesses afloat and jobs secure, and have done everything we can to help pave the way for recovery. We have all faced up to some difficult truths and learned some valuable lessons, and we’re pleased to be able to share much of that insight and expertise in this edition of Future Shock.”