Pubs and Bars

Quarter of licensed premises yet to reopen, report finds

Just under 25,000 venues still remain shut, and trading numbers are currently 76.6% in England and 77.4% in Scotland, with a “notably slower” return in Wales (69.6%)

One in four (23.7%) restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed premises across Britain are yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor research from CGA and AlixPartners reveals.

Just under 25,000 venues still remain shut, and trading numbers are currently 76.6% in England and 77.4% in Scotland, with a “notably slower” return in Wales (69.6%). 

The Market Recovery Monitor found that slightly more pubs have reopened than restaurants. Around nine in 10 high street pubs (92.9%), food pubs (91.8%) and community pubs (89.6%) are now trading again, compared to 89.2% of casual dining and other restaurants.

According to the CGA, ongoing social distancing and restrictions still “make it unviable for swathes of venues to open”. Some 45.2% of Britain’s sports and social clubs remain closed, as well as 50.9% of large venues and 27.0% of bars.  

Previous editions of the Market Recovery Monitor revealed that only a third (32.9%) of licensed premises traded during the first phase of reopening ahead of the return of inside service on 17 May. More than 8,500 premises, or 7.4% of the pre-pandemic total, have already closed for good.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The return of large parts of hospitality for indoor service was a landmark moment for consumers and businesses alike, but it is alarming to see that so many venues have still not been able to welcome guests. 

“Many will have decided that restrictions and space constraints make opening unviable, while some sectors like late-night bars and nightclubs are still completely off limits. It will be an anxious wait to see how many of the venues that are holding on until the final easing of restrictions will be able to make it through. Sustained support is clearly going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs.”

Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, added: “While it is fantastic to see the pub and restaurant sector putting in such a robust performance ahead of the bank holiday weekend, it is clear that challenges remain across the hospitality industry. 

“Restrictions are still in place, staffing challenges persist, and city centres are yet to welcome back the majority of office workers, making it difficult for most venues to operate, and in the case of late-night venues, making it impossible for quite a few venues to reopen.  The removal of all Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June remains a critical hurdle to overcome. Without restrictions being removed, many sites will not be viable and we may see these recent positive reopening trends reverse.”

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