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One in four venues reopen for first week of outdoor service

Published:  19 April, 2021

Just under a quarter of England’s licensed premises have opened for trade in hospitality’s first week back for outdoor-only service, with pubs in particular capitalising on wider access to beer gardens, patios and other outdoor areas.

According to latest figures from the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners, a total of 20,832 hospitality venues were trading again by Thursday 15 April following the reopening of the on-trade on Monday 12 April.

This means 23.2% of England’s 89,953 known licensed sites are open, while the remaining three quarters still remain shut.

Understandably, re-openings have been more widespread in the pub sector, where four in 10 (39.1%) of England’s food pubs traded last week.

Things have been tougher for restaurants. Grappling with often limited outdoor seating has meant that fewer than one in eight (11.8%) sites in the independent-led restaurant sector have opened, though signs show that casual dining restaurants (23.5%) have been quicker to return.

By region, openings have been spread quite evenly across the country. Reopenings reached a high of 24.4% in the Central and East England, with a low of 21.8% in the North. All licensed premises in Scotland and Wales remain closed until later this month.

“The return of outdoor service is a welcome first step on the road to recovery for England’s hospitality sector, and for pubs in particular,” Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said.

“Venues that have been able to open have worked hard to give people the eating and drinking out experiences they have missed for so long, but they remain subject to major operational constraints and the unpredictability of the British Spring weather.”

Of the three in four venues in England which remain closed, she said it may be another four weeks until it is feasible for many hospitality venues to reopen again.

Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners, added: “With the vast majority of the sector remaining closed until next month’s planned indoor reopening, operators will be hoping that the next phase of government’s roadmap remains on track. While reports of strong consumer demand this week are welcome and while operators are driving sales where possible through use of their outside spaces, the stark reality is that this trading represents a small proportion of normal revenues and most will be making a loss. Many challenges remain during this reopening phase and the months ahead.”