A quarter of Britain’s licensed premises still to reopen after lockdown

Snapshot Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners indicates a solid return for pubs and restaurants but ongoing challenges for late-night and social venues

One in four (23.7%) of Britain’s restaurants, pubs, bars and other licensed premises have yet to reopen despite the return of inside service, new Market Recovery Monitor research from CGA and AlixPartners reveals.


The snapshot data show just under 25,000 venues are still shut, and illustrate the challenges faced by the hospitality sector to reopen, recover sales and preserve jobs. It indicates similar trading numbers in England (76.6%) and Scotland (77.4%), with a notably slower return in Wales (69.6%).


The Market Recovery Monitor shows slightly more pubs have reopened than restaurants. Around nine in ten high street pubs (92.9%), food pubs (91.8%) and community pubs (89.6%) are now back trading, alongside 89.2% of casual dining and other restaurants.


However, social distancing and other restrictions still make it unviable for swathes of venues to open, and 45.8% of Britain’s sports and social clubs remain closed, alongside 50.9% of large venues and 27.0% of bars. The figures are a reminder that thousands of businesses remain at risk of collapse before all COVID-19 restrictions are potentially lifted on 21 June.


Previous editions of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners have revealed that only a third (32.9%) of Britain’s licensed premises traded during the first phase of reopening ahead of the return of inside service on Monday 17 May. More than 8,500 premises—7.4% of Britain’s pre-COVID-19 total—have already closed for good.


Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “The return of large parts of hospitality for indoor service was a landmark moment for consumers and businesses alike, but it is alarming to see that so many venues have still not been able to welcome guests. Many will have decided that restrictions and space constraints make opening unviable, while some sectors like late-night bars and nightclubs are still completely off limits. It will be an anxious wait to see how many of the venues that are holding on until the final easing of restrictions will be able to make it through. Sustained support is clearly going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs.”


Graeme Smith, a Managing Director at AlixPartners, said: “While it is fantastic to see the pub and restaurant sector putting in such a robust performance ahead of the bank holiday weekend, it is clear that challenges remain across the hospitality industry. Restrictions are still in place, staffing challenges persist, and city centres are yet to welcome back the majority of office workers, making it difficult for most venues to operate, and in the case of late-night venues, making it impossible for quite a few venues to reopen.  The removal of all COVID-19 restrictions on 21 June remains a critical hurdle to overcome. Without restrictions being removed, many sites will not be viable and we may see these recent positive reopening trends reverse.”

The Monitor was launched by CGA and AlixPartners to track the openings and closures of Britain’s licensed premises as the sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is based on CGA’s exclusive Outlet Index, a constantly updated database of the country’s premises.


For more information about the latest Market Recovery Monitor report, email Chris Jeffrey at chris.jeffrey@cgastrategy.com

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