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Staff shifts still down 69% across the UK

Published:  24 July, 2020

The challenge facing the hospitality sector has been reiterated by new figures which show that shifts worked by employees are still down 68.9% across the UK.

The data, provided by income streaming provider Wagestream, is a stark reminder that while restaurants and bars have begun to reopen, many businesses are only operating at less than half their pre-lockdown capacity, putting further strain on the sector overall.

In England, where employees have been able to welcome customers back to pubs, bars and restaurants since July 4, the number of shifts being worked is 58.3% down on pre-lockdown levels.

The whole of the UK went into lockdown on March 23 but the rules on reopening have varied in Wales and Scotland.

Welsh pubs, cafes and restaurants have only been able to reopen outdoors since July 13 and in Scotland they were only permitted to open indoors from July 15. In Scotland, the number of shifts being worked is still down 73% since before lockdown.

“The hospitality industry was uniquely susceptible to the Covid-19 crisis and it is in desperate need of our support,” Peter Briffett, CEO and co-founder of Wagestream, said. 

“Pubs and restaurants must stage a dramatic fight back if they are to survive but they can only do that if people are willing to get back out there and spend. We know that the vast majority of pubs, bars and restaurants have moved heaven and Earth to make it business as usual as far as the comfort, safety and enjoyment of guests is concerned and we really hope they are rewarded for that in the weeks to come. 

“The Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which starts in August, is a fantastic way of encouraging people to support these firms. It will hopefully help put the afterburners on and drive more footfall to UK hospitality venues.” 

The figures follow those of CGA’s weekly update on the hospitality sector, which showed that managed pub, bar and restaurant groups in England have reported improving sales in the second week after shut-down was lifted, boosted by the reopening of more sites.

Across the UK however, it seems businesses are still reluctant to bring employees back from furlough as they get to grips with reopening their businesses and putting measures in place for social distancing.

Wagestream analysed shift data for tens of thousands of workers for the weekend of the 18 July compared with the 21 March 2020 – the weekend just before the UK lockdown began.

According to their data, the number of shifts being offered to staff is only increasing at a rate of 3% per week, raising fears that the UK’s recovery is not accelerating at a fast enough pace to save the industry from existential threat.