December trade down 21% from pre-pandemic for night-time hospitality
Night-time hospitality businesses reported trade was down 21% on 2019 levels during December, according to a flash poll of 200 Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) members.
Respondents particularly blamed the drop in trade on consumers having less disposable income, as well as cost inflation and train strikes. Operators reported that New Year's Eve trade was also 16% down on 2019, but the NTIA said this was "better than expected".
The poll found that 53.7% of respondents did not make enough profit to cover cash reserve requirements for the slower periods, with 20.9% barely making enough, with more than half of businesses reporting they only had enough cash reserves to survive for up to two months.
The NTIA said that many businesses would be heavily reliant on support being announced in the March Budget to survive. It listed the main asks from businesses as being a VAT reduction, energy cap freeze, alcohol duty freeze, and business rates extension.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA said: "With operating costs continuing to increase, rent and VAT due in January and the media talking about the government halving the current energy subsidy scheme we are faced with a challenging Q1 2023, with many trying to find a pathway through the uncertainty.
"It is clear that inflationary pressures, both business and domestic, have caused the most damage, with industrial action impacting cities and large towns reliant on consumer mobility at night.
"This is one of the biggest challenges the industry has faced, for many a greater crisis than the pandemic, with many businesses being left on the edge trying to survive.
"We will not accept that there will be casualties of this crisis, and urge the government to be clear with its intentions on energy and the coming March Budget before it's too late."
Photo: Shutterstock / Gabrielle Geiselman