UK hospitality businesses expect August trade to be down by two-thirds even if social distancing is reduced.
A poll by trade body UKHospitality (UKH), found downbeat expectations for the key summer month, with predictions of a 65% decline if social distancing is reduced to one metre and 78% if it remains at two metres.
Respondents were asked to give their expectations on trade in the three months following reopening and for December, a vital revenue-generating month for the sector.
Overall, hospitality businesses overwhelmingly expect a very slow recovery in the second half of 2020, with a worst-case scenario in December of trade at around a third of the previous year’s level if the two-metre rule remains in place.
UKH said: “Even at one metre, trade is only expected to be at just over half the level compared to the year before.” UKH is calling on the government to urgently confirm 4 July as the date the hospitality sector reopens and for extended support to prevent widespread business failures and further job losses.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This bleak outlook from operators should sound the alarm with governments across the UK. First things first, we urgently need confirmation of the reopening date for hospitality without further delay.
“Businesses need time to prepare and the first step on the road to recovery is confirmation of when they can open their doors again. Those who rely on advance bookings, such as hotels, leisure parks and attractions need answers now.
“For most venues, operating with the two-metre social distancing rule is financially unviable, so if the current review on social distancing recommends it is safe to do so, we would urge the government to adopt the internationally-recognised standard of one metre. Such a reduction would be a huge boost for the sector and prove critical to the survival of the vast majority of businesses.”
UKH is also calling for a cut in tourism VAT and Air Passenger Duty, support for missed rent payments during closure and the creation of an autumn bank holiday.