Pubs and Bars

Beer and pub leaders push for reopening date as sales plummet 56%

It comes as it was today revealed that trading restrictions and lockdowns caused sales of beer to plummet by 56% in 2020, down by £7.8bn in total

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and business leaders of the beer and pub industry are pushing the government to confirm a clear timeline and date for the reopening of the sector. 

It comes as it was revealed that trading restrictions and lockdowns caused sales of beer to plummet by 56% in 2020, down by £7.8bn in total. 

In Q2 2020 alone, which incorporated the first full Covid-19 lockdown, pub beer sales dropped by 96%, while in Q4 2020, when severe time trading and tier restrictions were placed on pubs, pub beer sales dropped by 77% against  last year. 

In light of the “severity” of the impact that trading restrictions and lockdowns have had on the sector, the BBPA and business leaders have also published a recovery roadmap to reopen pubs fully after the current lockdown. 

The roadmap says that following the vaccinations of the vulnerable, pubs must reopen when non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector reopen. 

It adds that mandatory trading restrictions, such as alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10pm curfew, must be removed when pubs reopen in a “timely way”. 

In addition, the BBPA said the government will need to continue to provide financial support in the form of a stimulus package post-reopening, in order to ensure businesses do not fail due to unsustainable debt built up during the lockdowns. 

It added that an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday will be “essential”, as well as a “significant” beer duty cut,in order to “help pubs trade profitably once more and start to recover from 2020”. 

According to the BBPA,  thousands of local pubs will fail due to their unsustainable debt and cash burn levels without such a plan to reopen, resulting in “local jobs and local pubs that are vital to communities throughout the UK being lost for good”. 

Philip Whitehead, chairman of the BBPA, said: “This is not sustainable for our sector. We cannot continue to hold out under these circumstances. We urge the government to provide clarity to our sector on when it can expect to fully reopen. 

“When pubs can reopen, the restrictions they face – ranging from the substantial meal rule to the 10pm curfew – must be removed. They simply destroy their ability to operate as viable businesses.”  

He added: “We need the government to continue to provide financial support for Pubs when they reopen to bridge the gap to full recovery and commit to supporting the beer and pub sector for the long-term with Duty, VAT and Business Rates Reform.  

“Pubs need the VAT cut and business rates holiday for hospitality to be extended immediately, as well as a significant beer duty cut. These will provide vital support for pubs and stimulate demand and signal that Britain and its pubs are safe and back open for business.” 

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