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Lockdown crisis

Almost 10,000 hospitality firms closed in 2020

lock on gates at bar

Shutdown: more firms will shut permanently this year (pic: Terry Murden)

Almost 10,000 pubs and restaurants closed across the UK last year as the Covid lockdown ravaged the hospitality sector.

Casual dining was the hardest hit sector and “many more” businesses are expected to close this year, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.

Despite the crisis, 3,955 businesses opened last year. With 9,930 closing permanently it left It a net decline of 5,975 sites which was three times as many as in 2019.

In the casual dining sector total site numbers dropped by 9.7%, or 3.8 permanent closures for every opening. The community, food and high street pub segments saw numbers fall between 3.9% and 5.1%. The sports and social club sector, which has suffered from bans on events and socialising, recorded a decline of 6.2%.

“Our report takes stock of the huge damage wreaked by the pandemic on the licensed sector in 2020,” said Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA.


“With stop-start trading for much of 2020 and a widespread shutdown during what should have been a bumper Christmas, nearly 10,000 licensed venues have not been able to make it through, and it is sadly inevitable that thousands more casualties will follow.”

He added: “After such a bleak Christmas it is difficult to be optimistic about the market. But consumers are desperate to get back to eating and drinking out, and we can be confident that footfall and sales will return when the sector can finally reopen.

“In the meantime, the case for government support over the next few months is urgent and compelling. There are better days to come, but the sector will be in survival mode for some time yet.”

Lucy Powell, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said: “The Government’s irresponsible choices have meant many businesses have gone bust on their watch and left the UK with the worst recession of any major economy.

“With many businesses still struggling and facing ruin in the weeks ahead, ministers must urgently put in place a comprehensive, long term plan to support businesses through the crisis and secure our economy.”

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