Venues & Properties

‘Freedom Day’ delay puts thousands more venues at risk, CGA warns

Although 76.2% of Britain’s licensed sites were trading by the end of last month, around 25,000 licensed premises were still shut

The delaying of “Freedom Day” has put thousands more clubs, restaurants, pubs and bars at risk, according to the latest edition of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.

Although 76.2% of Britain’s licensed sites were trading by the end of last month, around 25,000 licensed premises remain closed.

The research revealed that while more than nine in 10 venues in segments including food pubs (91.9%), high street pubs (92.9%) and casual dining restaurants (93.9%) are now open, figures are much lower in sectors that rely on late-night trading, like nightclubs (49.9%) and bars (72.9%).

With strict restrictions including distancing and table service in place, CGA’s trading data showed that sales have been “well below” pre-Covid-19 levels in these segments in particular.

The four-week delay to a full easing of trading restrictions in England until 19 July, with Scotland following a similar path, places many closed businesses in jeopardy of failure.

Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Britain already has nearly 10,000 fewer licensed premises than before the pandemic, and that number will sadly rise as a result of the government’s delay.

“Coming as it does on top of a mountain of challenges on debt, tax, rising costs, recruitment and much more, hospitality now deserves sustained financial backing to save thousands of businesses and jobs, and the government’s extension of the ban on commercial evictions of tenants is a welcome first step.”

Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, added: “Many operators will have reopened in anticipation of restrictions falling away on 21 June, and likely forecast and accept suppressed trade for the period up to that point.

“A further delay of four weeks is a devastating blow, creating significant uncertainty and further financial strain. At a time when Euro 2020 is in full swing and there is a feel-good factor across the country, this extension to restrictions could not have come at a worse time for pubs and other drink-led venues.”

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