Almost a quarter of restaurants, pubs and bars have yet to reopen during the pandemic with 8,500 closing their doors for good, a report has found.
Nearly 25,000 licensed premises remain shut, with the current social distancing rules making it unviable for many to reopen their doors, according to research from the Market Recovery Monitor.
The research found that just under a third (32.9%) of licensed premises in Britain welcomed guests back in April—just over 35,000 venues. The five weeks of outside service has been a beneficial springboard for sales and numbers were boosted by the moves of some local authorities to allow operators to add tables to pavements and pedestrianize roads—enabling some venues that did not previously have a designated outdoor space to accommodate guests.
By segment, food pubs led the way across Britain, with 49.0% trading in April, followed by bar restaurants (39.1%), community pubs (38.7%), and high street pubs (36%). By contrast, restaurant activity lagged behind at just 16.6%, given the greater likelihood of an absence of outdoor trading options.
Graeme Smith, a managing director at AlixPartners, said: "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 June 21 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."
Meanwhile, 45 per cent of Britain's sports and social clubs remain shut, as do 50 per cent of large venues and more than a quarter of bars.
Karl Chessell, of the business organisation 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 – many venues are holding on until the final easing of restrictions to see if they can make it through. Sustained support is going to be needed to save thousands of vulnerable businesses and jobs."