The British Beer & Pub Association have today urged the Government to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs can reopen. The call comes as it was revealed today that trading restrictions and lockdowns caused sales of beer to plummet by 56% in 2020 – down by £7.8 billion.
Given the severity of the impact that trading restrictions and lockdowns have had on the sector, the BBPA and business leaders of the beer and pub industry have published a recovery roadmap to reopen pubs fully after the current lockdown.
The roadmap states that post vaccination of the most vulnerable, pubs must reopen when non-essential retail and other parts of the hospitality sector reopen. It also says that mandatory trading restrictions – such as alcoholic drinks served only with a substantial meal, no mixed households and the 10pm curfew – must be removed when pubs reopen in a timely way.
Upon the re-opening of the sector, the BBPA also says the Government will need to continue to provide financial support in the form of a stimulus package to ensure businesses do not fail due to unsustainable debt built up during the lockdowns. It says an extension to the VAT cut and business rates holiday will be essential, as well as a significant beer duty cut, to help pubs trade profitably once more and start to recover from 2020.
Without such a plan to reopen, trade viably and give further economic support to stimulate recovery, the BBPA says thousands of local pubs will fail due to their unsustainable debt and cash burn levels, resulting in local jobs and local pubs that are vital to communities throughout the UK being lost for good.
In Q2 2020 alone, which incorporated the first full COVID-19 lockdown, pub beer sales dropped by 96%.
In Q4 2020, when severe time trading and tier restrictions were placed on pubs, as well as a second full lockdown, pub beer sales dropped by 77% in comparison to last year.
Despite being able to open under less restrictions in Q3 2020, a temporary VAT cut on food and soft drinks and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, pub beer sales were still down 27% for the quarter.
Philip Whitehead, Chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “This is not sustainable for our sector. We cannot continue to hold out under these circumstances. We urge the Government to provide clarity to our sector on when it can expect to fully reopen.
“As a sector we have invested hundreds of millions in ensuring that we provide places for people to safely socialise in. When pubs reopened in July we did so safely and successfully to world leading standards.
“When pubs can reopen, the restrictions they face – ranging from the substantial meal rule to the 10pm curfew – must be removed. They simply destroy their ability to operate as viable businesses.
“After nearly a whole year under forced closure, or open but under severe restrictions, pub trade has been decimated and sales of beer in pubs have plummeted by 56%. Furthermore, due to their revenue falling off a cliff in 2020, pubs are holding debt and have little to no cash left. We need the Government to continue to provide financial support for Pubs when they reopen to bridge the gap to full recovery and commit to supporting the beer and pub sector for the long-term with Duty, VAT and Business Rates Reform.
“Pubs need the VAT cut and business rates holiday for hospitality to be extended immediately, as well as a significant beer duty cut. These will provide vital support for pubs and stimulate demand and signal that Britain and its pubs are safe and back open for business.”
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Hospitality & Catering News: Pubs plead for a lead on a reopening timeline – 10 February 2021 – Pubs plead for a lead on a reopening timeline.
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