The hospitality industry is ready to lead the UK’s post-COVID recovery, but needs sustained support on a range of challenges after a devastating 16 months.
Those are among the headline messages in the ninth edition of the Future Shock series of reports from CGA and UKHospitality. ‘Hospitality: COVID and beyond’ provides a definitive assessment of the pandemic’s impact on the sector, including the loss of more than £80bn in sales in just 12 months, the permanent closure of nearly 10,000 licensed premises, and a collapse in inbound tourism.
The report also analyses hospitality’s recovery since trading restrictions began to ease in April, with signs of mounting optimism about the future. It shows four in five (79%) business leaders now feel optimistic about market prospects for the next 12 months, while consumers are increasingly confident about going out. However, it also highlights strong headwinds facing hospitality in the recovery period, on staff recruitment, rising costs, high debt levels, tax burdens and more.
Future Shock presents exclusive CGA insights into important post-COVID consumer trends, including growing use of delivery, technology and local venues, increased awareness of health and ethics, more advance planning in eating and drinking out, and a polarisation between people spending freely and those who have been hit financially by the pandemic.
Future Shock also features UKHospitality’s expert analysis of policy-related issues facing hospitality in the second half of 2021, including licensing regulations, calorie labelling, advertising restrictions, sustainability strategies and the staffing crisis, and sets out what the trade body is doing on members’ behalf to minimise adverse effects on the sector.
In addition to extensive research from CGA and views from UKHospitality, Future Shock has expert insights from report partners Britvic, Molson Coors, Caterer.com and Inspired Energy, who explore issues including the growth of no and low alcohol drinks, consumers’ changing behaviours and how to manage energy prices.
Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “This edition of Future Shock comes at a crucial turning point for hospitality. COVID-19 has inflicted massive damage on our sector, closing thousands of businesses, wrecking hundreds of thousands of jobs and wiping out billions of pounds in sales, and we will feel the effects of the pandemic for years to come. But as restrictions wind down, our research points to plenty of reasons to be optimistic—not least from the release of the latent demand for the special experiences that only hospitality can provide. Our sector is well placed to drive economic recovery and mend the UK’s damaged social fabric, but it can only do that if it gets proper and sustained support from government across a host of urgent issues.”
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at UKHospitality, says: “Hospitality is a fragile sector after 16 months of impinged trading, but true to the very nature of hospitality, many of our business leaders are nevertheless optimistic about the future as this report demonstrates. The pandemic has highlighted the incredible value of our industry, not only economically but also for our communities, the workforce and our social and mental well-being. There is no doubt it will be a rough recovery but UKHospitality will be working with the Government, industry stakeholders and our members to gain support from Government and reduce any unnecessary red tape or burdensome legislation so we have a conducive operating environment to aid a fruitful return to pre-pandemic trading levels.”