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Mon 10th Aug 2020 - Pubs swifter to reopen as restaurants and London lag behind
Pubs swifter to reopen as restaurants and London lag behind, less than two-thirds of licensed premises back trading: Less than two-thirds (62%) of Britain’s licensed premises were trading again by the end of July following the lifting of lock-down restrictions, the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed. The pattern of reopening has also been uneven, with pubs ahead of restaurants and London lagging behind the rest of England. Scotland and Wales also trail, having been given the green light to start trading again later than England’s 4 July date. Independent businesses have also been less likely to reopen than larger companies, with 52% open at the end of July compared with 75% of group-managed sites. Overall, 87% of food-led pubs and 84% of high-street pubs have reopened. By contrast, only 56% of full-service restaurants and 63% of casual dining restaurants have reopened following moves by several large brands to permanently close sites or undergo company voluntary arrangements. While more restaurants will have been incentivised to reopen by the government’s VAT cut and Eat Out To Help Out initiative in August, the monitor’s data suggested the pandemic may substantially reduce the size of Britain’s casual dining and restaurant market. Bars and sports and social clubs have also seen lower opening numbers. The monitor also highlights regional variations in reopenings and reveals significant challenges for London in particular. Almost three-quarters (73%) of sites are now open in the north east and south west of England, 12% more than in the capital where a steep fall in office workers and tourists has prompted many businesses to remain closed. In contrast, the south and south east region has most licensed premises open. Operating numbers are much lower in Scotland and Wales too (59% and 34% respectively). In the British market as a whole, almost 71,000 licensed premises out of a potential 114,500 were trading again by the end of July – 62% of the pre-lock-down total. “This new data makes it clear hospitality’s road to recovery will be long,” said Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA. “The number-one challenge for businesses is to respond to people’s concerns and demonstrate they can have a safe and enjoyable experience when they go out to eat and drink. If they can achieve that, we expect to see site and trading numbers increase over the summer and autumn.”

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