Bar sales across Britain dropped 90.2% during the final week in November as tier restrictions continue to cause “immeasurable harm” to the sector.

According to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, sales across the hospitality sector were down 79% during the last week of November. Drinks-led pubs and bars were the worst affected and fell 88.8% and 90.2% respectively compared with the same period in 2019.

At the end of November, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the hospitality industry were down 43.7% on the previous 12 months.

Lockdown in England came into force on 5 November and closed all licensed premises, with only limited openings permitted in Scotland and Wales. By the last week of November, just 6% of Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants were trading.

Despite lockdown coming to an end in England on 2 December, 50,000 on-trade venues remain unable to operate under tougher tier restrictions currently in place.

Trevor Watson, executive director of valuations at Davis Coffer Lyons, warned such restrictions will harm hospitality businesses during the festive period, which would normally be the “most important month of the year” for the on-trade.

He said: “Sadly, with effectively the whole country in tier two or three for the first half of December at least, prospects for a reasonable bounce back in the most important month of the year are very weak indeed. The prospects for any loosening of trading restrictions in key markets such as London and other major cities look poor.

“Operators must resign themselves to very difficult conditions for the next few months, with the restrictions on household mixing and the need for substantial meals doing immeasurable harm to wet-led trade, which is the heart and soul of so many communities. We hope and pray this Christmas that vaccine progress will soon enable the politicians to swing their policies in favour of saving the economy as well as saving lives.”

‘Pent up demand’
As a vaccine for Covid-19 is administered across the UK, Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, a multi-national network of accounting firms, hopes that “pent up demand” for pubs and bars will soon be released.

He said: “It’s difficult to put into words the impact of November’s national lockdown when so many hospitality businesses are looking for a silver lining to one of the worst years on record.

“The negative impact on one of the country’s key sectors has become too much to bear for many and further material support is desperately needed.

“With the Bank of England reporting that excess savings of £100 billion (US$131bn) have been built up by UK households during Covid-19 lockdowns, the sector will be hoping that the start of the vaccine rollout will release pent up demand in pubs and restaurants that are able to open over the festive period.”
Via The Spirits Business
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