Hospitality sector prepares for post-lockdown trading

Hospitality operators remain “deeply pessimistic” about market prospects and the future of their own businesses, according to the latest CGA Business Confidence Survey.

Its latest findings found that 32% of senior executives anticipate the need to permanently close their pub, bar or restaurant sites.

According to the latest poll, only 36% of bosses believed they would eventually reopen all sites for trading, with a further 33% yet to decide on closures. 

Almost all respondents expected to see a “much-reduced” market in the future, with between 70% and 80% of sites across pubs, bars, restaurants, late-night venues and hotels continuing to trade. 

The CGA added that most businesses in the eating and drinking-out market are now “actively engaged” in planning for post-lockdown operations, despite the majority of bosses expecting to reopen in June or July with a phased approach.

Some 81% of operators have initiated recovery planning, though 13% said they were “still waiting for more information before starting”. A further 5% did “not currently have the capacity to plan”.

According to the CGA, the majority of businesses will be starting recovery from scratch, as only 27% of those surveyed had any sites open, either for delivery (8%), grocery and food supply to the public (4%) or for NHS or community support (14%).

Meanwhile, 96% of bosses expect a phased reopening for hospitality, with half believing that will be based on a number of criteria including sector, location and type of site. Only 4% expect a mass reopening.

Some 62% are planning for a phased reopening of their own estates, though 31% expect a full-scale reopening of their operations, dependent on government guidance going forward.

Two-thirds of bosses believe it will take them less than two weeks to get their sites ready to trade post-lockdown, while 22% anticipate a two to four week preparation period.

Karl Chessell, director of Food & Retail at CGA, said: “This is undoubtedly the most important business leaders’ survey we’ve delivered in a decade.

“At this critical juncture, how hospitality leaders plan for the recovery will be critical to the long-term success of their businesses.”

James England, senior vice president at Fourth, said: “Operators are increasingly focusing their thoughts on reactivation. 

“While it’s not yet clear when the lockdown will be lifted, it is apparent that the market will have a fundamentally different outlook when it reopens.”  

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