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Thu 12th Mar 2020 - Coronavirus hits high-street footfall by 26%, Casual Dining show postponed
Coronavirus hits high-street footfall by 26%: New data reveals coronavirus (covid-19) has caused a 26% year-on-year drop in footfall on the high street. The figures follow an average 9% fall in February – the first UK case of coronavirus was confirmed on 31 January. Wireless Social’s analysis showed footfall has deteriorated rapidly since 20 February, when it was down 6% compared with the previous year. By the following week (27 February) it was down 11% from 2019 and by yesterday (Wednesday, 11 March) it had dropped 20% year-on-year. Wireless Social marketing director Matt Smith told Propel: “In a bid to demonstrate the immediate impact of covid-19 across the hospitality industry we have taken an aggregated look at footfall in more than 800 venues nationally, focusing mainly on major cities. The Channel 4 News programme will cover this topic tonight using our data in a bid to highlight the impact on our restaurants and bars and the need for an urgent government response. As of today, we are seeing a minus 26% like-for-like decline in footfall across the UK and with impending ‘social distancing’ measures, it is only likely to get worse. The budget hasn’t recognised larger operators and the huge number of people they support. Our data clearly shows our entire sector is at risk with significant concern for our workforce.” Meanwhile, analysis by restaurant business intelligence and forecasting platform Tenzo revealed the effect coronavirus is having on even the UK’s high-performing businesses. The data is based on 136 typically high-performing food and beverage businesses, including multi-site and single-site restaurants, pubs and cafes that use the Tenzo platform. They recorded an average year-on-year sales growth of 6.04% for an average week in November, 6.38% in December, and 1.18% in January. However, after the first UK case of coronavirus was confirmed on 31 January, sales growth was reversed, dropping to minus 0.73% in February and much further to minus 6.74% in the first week of March. The sample includes a majority of sites in and around London. For the average business in the sample, this meant a year-on-year fall in sales of £1,883 in the first week of March. Compared with Tenzo’s artificial intelligence sales prediction, which uses machine learning to analyse past sales, growth trends, weather forecasts and holidays, the impact looks even worse. Sales were down an average 11.29% in the first week of March, compared with what it would expect the businesses to take in the same period. The data showed cafes are being far more affected than restaurants, with a 16% year-on-year decrease in sales in the first week of March, compared with a 6.39% reduction for restaurants. Results for pubs have been inconsistent. A smaller analysis also showed the fall in sales have partly been compensated for by an increase in delivery orders, with some businesses seeing a rise of up to 25% in delivery sales.

Casual Dining show postponed: Organisers of Casual Dining have taken the “difficult decision” to postpone the event due to the rapidly escalating coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak. A new date for the show, which was due to take place on 25 and 26 March at Excel in London, is expected to be announced in the next 24 hours. Group event director Chris Brazier said: “Since our recent update on our website regarding Casual Dining and coronavirus, events have continued to unfold at speed. We have therefore made the difficult decision to postpone the event due to the magnitude of the unanticipated public health and safety issues posed by the rapidly escalating covid-19 outbreak. We have spoken to many exhibitors, visitors and supporters and, based on the situation and feedback, the decision has been taken to postpone Casual Dining. The exact date will be confirmed within 24 hours. Casual Dining is the single most important business event for the sector. Many restaurants, pubs and bars rely on it to meet new and current suppliers so this decision has not been taken lightly. Even before covid-19 the industry needed this event and will need it even more after it subsides. Right now our thoughts are with you and your teams. On behalf of all of us at Casual Dining, thank you again for your understanding and continued support during these testing times.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The effects of coronavirus are being felt across not only the casual dining sector but also the events industry. The health of guests has to be paramount and so this is a sensible if disappointing decision to have to make. Like the rest of the sector, Casual Dining will come back bigger and stronger.”

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