U.K. Spending on Hospitality Remains 30% Below Pre-Covid Level
(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s consumers are spending about 30% less in restaurants, bars and hotels than they did before the pandemic despite easing restrictions that culminate with “freedom day” on Monday.
The Office for National Statistics said turnover in hospitality businesses remains 25% below where it was before the pandemic struck and spending is 70% of that level. The figures illustrate the damage done to the industry that once employed 2 million and has lost 200,000 jobs through June.
Restaurants, pubs and clubs had been hoping that lifting many of the last Covid-19 restrictions will allow them to reopen to full capacity. However, the U.K. saw the world’s biggest increase in infections over the weekend, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is isolating after his double vaccinated Health Secretary Sajid Javid tested positive for the virus last week.
The ONS figures show nightclubs were the worst affected, with sales 39% lower than before the first lockdown. Suppliers have also been affected, with payments from food and drink businesses reaching only 51% of pre-pandemic levels in May 2021.
The government furlough scheme is also due to wind down over the summer, ending on Sept. 30. It supported 1.6 million people working in hospitality at the height of the pandemic, a total that fell to 590,000 at the end of May, representing 25% of all workers claiming the support.
Although vacancies are the highest compared to other industries, reaching 102,000 from April to June 2021, employment in hospitality was still 11% below levels prevailing before the virus struck.
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