Friday 2 October 2020 2:10 pm

Quarter of a million pub jobs at risk as curfew stifles hospitality recovery

A major new study predicts that almost 300,000 jobs will be lost in pubs, bars and breweries unless the government changes its strategy for the hospitality sector.

The study, conducted by Oxford Economics for the British Beer and Pub Association, suggests that almost a third of existing jobs in the sector will go as a result of data and insights from surveys of pub and brewing businesses.

Read more: Government must do more to stave off the collapse of London’s hospitality industries

The warning of a £7bn hit to the economy comes as new figures from Coffer Peach show the imposition of a 10pm hospitality curfew saw drinks-led pubs and bars record a 15 per cent fall in sales week-on-week.

The modelling is based on estimates that one in four pubs will close without more government support.

The end of the furlough scheme in October, which has protected a number of jobs throughout the past six months across the sector, is expected to trigger a wave of closures and job losses.

The BBPA have called for an urgent review of the 10pm curfew rules at least every three weeks and to remove it if it is not found to impact the spread of the virus.

They have also called for a specific package of support for the hospitality industry over and above the existing Job Support Scheme – including a business rates holiday into 2021 and changes to the VAT regime on beer.

Read more: London Cocktail Week extended to a month as bars fight back against government regulations

The government’s 10pm curfew for pubs and bars has led to a near-instant 15 per cent hit to sales for drink-led pubs.

The early closing rules also had an 8.2 per cent sales hit on pubs which offer meals, compared to the week before, according to data compiled by the Coffer Peach Business Tracker.

Restrictions hit an already-embattled hospitality sector, which was shut down for all of the Spring.

Like-for-like sales in September across all UK pub, bar and restaurant groups sunk 22.8 per cent compared to September last year.

It follows a stronger recovery in August – almost entirely down to the Eat Out to Help Out subsidy scheme – which dragged the industry out of lockdown to see it draw level with total sales from August 2019.

Unsurprisingly, drink-led businesses such as late-night bars saw the biggest reverse. Bar businesses saw like-for-likes down 47.6% for the week beginning September 21, with week-on-week sales falling 13.8%.

Read more: London without hospitality isn’t the London we know and love

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said:  “This new evidence shows the Government must change tack by reviewing the effectiveness of restrictive measures like the 10pm curfew and providing a far greater package of financial support to save the pub and brewing sector. 

“It would be inexcusable to allow more than 290,000 sector jobs to be lost with a £7 billion hit to the economy, when it could be avoided with the right Government support to help keep pubs and breweries open. Protecting these jobs – many of which are held by under 25s – will also avoid the economy being hit by the loss of £3.9 billion in wages alone,” she continued.

The Treasury has been contacted for comment.

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