Call for support

90% of pubs fear they won’t survive winter

Pubs and bars face soaring costs

Almost 90% of Scotland’s pubs and bars say they may not survive the winter without further support from the government.

Many are still coping with Covid-related debt and Brexit-induced staff shortages and say that support measures announced by the UK Government will not be sufficient to meet rising costs.

One in ten intends to close over the winter months and two in ten will reduce their opening hours. Some have not re-opened after the pandemic.

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, has warned that this will impact on the wider tourism and food and drink sectors.

“Many of our respondents are still carrying significant Covid debt and are dealing with the challenges of Brexit,” he said.

“But we are now facing even bigger hurdles with rising costs, staff shortages and enormous increases to energy costs – with one in four anticipating an increase in energy costs of over 500%, despite the Chancellor’s announcement on capping wholesale energy prices.”

Mr Wilkinson added: “For many outlets it won’t be economically viable to remain open and one in 10 of our respondents plan to close during the winter months and nearly one in two expect to reduce opening hours.

“Our sector is a crucial part of the tourism industry and reduced opening hours will have a knock-on impact for Scotland’s wider food and drink sector, and for employment within the sector.

“Our pubs and bars have worked very hard post-Covid and Brexit to showcase Scotland’s hospitality industry, but with a tsunami of rising costs and low consumer confidence we urgently call on local and national governments to help us through the winter.

“We must protect the jobs that outlets provide directly and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food-producing sectors.”

Summary of key challenges

• Staffing: 40% of outlets are employing significantly fewer staff, while recruitment post-Brexit remains an issue

• Trading Conditions: 5% of outlets have not re-opened post-Covid, while 50% are trading at significantly lower levels than pre-Covid

• Covid Debt: one in two of hospitality outlets are carrying significant Covid-related debt

• Rising Costs: particularly energy which business owners have identified as the biggest threat to their businesses. One in four of venues are facing an increase in energy cost of over 500%

• Economic Outlook: with rising energy costs, 45% of outlets expect to reduce their opening hours which will impact on tourism and employment

• Government Support: support is urgently needed, with 87% of outlets requesting government support to survive the winter

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