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Coronavirus: Hospitality sector forecasts £73bn loss

Lily Canter
·2-min read
A staff member wears a face mask as she serves customers at the The Shy Horse pub and restaurant in Chessington, Greater London on July 4, 2020, on the first day of a major relaxation of lockdown restrictions during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Getty.
A staff member wears a face mask as she serves customers at the The Shy Horse pub and restaurant in Chessington, Greater London on July 4, 2020, on the first day of a major relaxation of lockdown restrictions during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Getty.

The hospitality sector is warning of £73bn ($91bn) worth of sale losses this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The stark forecast comes ahead of the opening of pubs and restaurants this weekend.

Trade body UKHospitality says the combination of lost tourism, weak consumer spending and operating constraints due to social distancing will cause the industry to lose almost half of its usual £133bn annual sales, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Despite the easing of lockdown restrictions, less than a fifth of Brits are planning to return to food and drink venues soon, according to a report by RBC Capital Markets.

Only two in five respondents plan to return to pubs, cafes and restaurants before August and more than half of drinkers and diners expect to go out less than they did before the pandemic.

The change in consumer habits means UKHospitality is expecting sales in July to be 65% lower than in 2019, improving to a 35% reduction in sales for the remaining five months of the year.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Supermarket price war as unemployment rises

During the height of UK lockdown sales dropped 90% in March and April.

The treasury has also been hit hard, losing some £20bn in VAT and other taxes from hospitality firms.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, told The Telegraph: “The size of the loss over the last few months dwarfs any of the opportunities that pubs and restaurants got for reopening and resuming revenues.

“It underlines the importance of the government not moving straight from rescue to recovery and making sure that these businesses are supported so that they can play their part when that recovery comes for them.”