EDITOR’S VIEW: The ‘lost’ revenue that has left the industry in need of support from wherever it can find it

Andrew Seymour

It is only now, as more publicly quoted companies within the industry report their latest numbers, that we are starting to get a clear picture of just how devastating the second quarter of the year was for everybody concerned with the hospitality sector.

It is no secret that sales fell off a cliff edge from the end of March as restaurants and bars were ordered to shut their doors, but as the latest quarterly financial announcements and trading updates get published, the true fiscal extent of the fall-out can be calculated.

Sales across the hospitality sector plummeted a staggering 87% in the second quarter of 2020, equivalent to almost £30 billion in lost revenue, according to the latest UKHospitality Tracker collated by CGA.

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As a result, sales from April and June totalled £4.6 billion, down £29.4 billion compared to the same time in 2019. Sales last year for this period totalled £34.2 billion.

It is a sobering snapshot of a market under pressure and one that signals why so many operators have had to close sites and lay off staff in recent weeks.

The severity of the drop demonstrates why there is a pressing need for extensive and sustained support for the hospitality industry over the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Industry figureheads insist it will take many years before the market posts the sort of numbers it achieved in 2019.

Fuller’s boss Simon Emeny was perhaps unintentionally speaking for everyone when he recently said the company could never have anticipated that it would close its financial year in March with the whole hospitality industry in a state of closure and with no income stream.

Hospitality was one of the first sectors to go into full-on lockdown mode and one of the last to come out, and the result was a virtual wipe-out of sales in the second quarter.

Hospitality contributed £133.5 billion to the UK economy in 2019, following 3.9% growth, but the rolling annual value of the sector has now dipped below £100 billion, with 12-month sales to the end of June totalling £97.2 billion.

The market will recover, but it is impossible to tell how long that will take. What we do know is that businesses still need assistance from government if more failures and job losses are to be avoided.

This is a resilient and dynamic industry, but it is one that is currently undergoing the most dramatic restructuring it has ever known.

The support of the government and public will determine how quickly it gets back on its feet.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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