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Hospitality has the UK's highest number of business closures and (almost) the most furloughed staff

Published:  14 May, 2020

A new survey showing how UK business are coping financially with the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the pressures being put on the out of home food and drink industry.

Out of 19 different business sectors, hospitality and leisure had the most number of temporary closures, with 84% of businesses shutting their doors, according to a new survey via

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is far above the national average across sectors (48%), including construction (71%) and manufacturing (60%).

Interestingly, however, it is not the sector with the most number of furloughed staff – not quite. 

That title goes to the real estate industry which has furloughed 86% of staff, despite closing just 25% of its fascias.

So far, the hospitality industry has furloughed a total of 69% of its staff under the government’s Job Retention Scheme (JRS), putting it in second place ahead of business services (68%) and construction (68%).

Hospitality is also at the higher end of redundancy levels, coming in at 27%.

Agriculture and business services are at a similar rate of 26% and 29% respectively. The construction industry is by far the highest, operating at a 68% redundancy rate.

The survey, which canvassed over 900 senior decision-makers within UK businesses, including those in hospitality & leisure and food & drink, also showed there is waning confidence in both the government and business operators to dig the sector out of the Covid-19 financial hole.

When asked, ‘Do you feel the measures introduced by the UK government are sufficient in helping businesses get through the coronavirus crisis?’ 62% of hospitality businesses said no.

Likewise, 41% said they did not have confidence in the ability of the senior people running their organisation to navigate through the coronavirus crisis.

Overall, out of the entire UK business sector, 42% of businesses have closed temporarily, 48% have furloughed staff and 26% have made redundancies.

However, 71% of the firms who have furloughed staff are yet to receive any financial support through the JRS. This is a “significant finding, particularly given the Chancellor has just this week announced an extension to this scheme”.

Nic Redfern, finance director at, added: “Most businesses have not faced a bigger challenge than overcoming the current pandemic. Evidently, with closures and furloughing taking place on a huge scale, there is significant need for financial support within the private sector.

“However, knowing where to turn for financial support is not that straightforward, nor is applying for it. That is why it is not only essential that loans are made available to businesses of all shapes and sizes, but also the process of applying for those loans is made as simple as possible. What’s more, our research illustrates that the funds must then be released quicker – thousands of companies are waiting for money they have successfully applied for and this delay could run them into the ground.”