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One in four licensed premises yet to reopen

Published:  01 May, 2021

One in four — just under 25,000 — of Britain's licensed premises have yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, according to the latest snapshot Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners. 

It indicates similar trading numbers in England (76.6%) and Scotland (77.4%), with a notably slower return in Wales (69.6%).

Moreover, the Monitor shows that slightly more pubs have reopened than restaurants, with around nine in 10 high street pubs (92.9%), food pubs (91.8%) and community pubs (89.6%) now back trading, alongside 89.2% of casual dining and other restaurants.

However, social distancing and restrictions in place still make it unviable for swathes of venues to open, and 45.2% of Britain’s sports and social clubs remain closed, alongside 50.9% of large venues and 27.0% of bars.

“The return of large parts of hospitality for indoor service was a landmark moment for consumers and businesses alike, but it is alarming to see that so many venues have still not been able to welcome guests,” said Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA. 

“Many will have decided that restrictions and space constraints make opening unviable, while some sectors like late-night bars and nightclubs are still completely off limits. It will be an anxious wait to see how many of the venues that are holding on until the final easing of restrictions will be able to make it through. Sustained support is clearly going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs,” he said.

Graeme Smith, MD at AlixPartners, added: “It is clear that challenges remain across the hospitality industry. Restrictions are still in place, staffing challenges persist, and city centres are yet to welcome back the majority of office workers, making it difficult for most venues to operate, and in the case of late-night venues, making it impossible for quite a few venues to reopen. 

“The removal of all Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June remains a critical hurdle to overcome. Without restrictions being removed, many sites will not be viable and we may see these recent positive reopening trends reverse.”

Previous editions of the Market Recovery Monitor have revealed that only a third (32.9%) of Britain’s licensed premises traded during the first phase of reopening ahead of the return of inside service the 17 May

More than 8,500 premises — 7.4% of Britain’s pre-Covid-19 total — have already closed for good.