Industry fears 75% of night time and hospitality venues could close by Christmas

More than three quarters of night time economy and hospitality businesses will close by Christmas, an industry survey has found.

Results from the Night Time Industries Association and marketing platform Sprout CRM found that 75.6% of businesses said they will permanently close by Christmas.

The results mirror the findings of a recent Manchester report which found a ‘significant number’ of Manchester’s hospitality businesses may not reopen, with smaller venues and those which don’t serve food especially at risk.

Reports from October and November by management company CityCo revealed several Manchester venues have already permanently or temporarily closed.

One company with over eight venues has suffered revenue losses of more than £13.5 million, due to government restrictions.

The reports found average trading in Manchester’s Gay Village is down 74% year on year, while Deansgate has seen a trading drop of 69%, and trading in the Northern Quarter is down 50%.

The NTIA survey similarly revealed that over two quarters of hospitality businesses with commercial leases are in rent arrears, and experiencing financial difficulty.

In total 73% of hospitality businesses have also made redundancies since the start of the pandemic, with two thirds already making 40% of their workforce redundant.

The NTIA has accused the government of intentionally aiming to collapse the night time sector, despite efforts by the hospitality workforce to ensure their venues are ‘covid safe’.

The association also claims the sector is facing unworkable business restrictions, with no scientific evidence to support the government’s decisions.

Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA, said: “Every town and city across the UK stands to lose valued and much loved venues.

“This will be another stab in the heart of our town and city centres.

“We stand to lose the cultural institutions  and amazing workforce of professionals that the UK are renowned for globally.”

Mr Kill has made a direct appeal to the Prime Minister to increase support for the night time economy.

He said: “Mr Johnson, what are you doing to save the lives and livelihoods of the many businesses and workers within the night time economy, businesses that have been closed since March and are continuing to suffer?”

Last week the government announced its one-off Christmas grant for ‘wet-led’ pubs, where venues in Tiers 2 and 3 that serve alcohol can apply for an additional £1000 on top of any existing support they’re receiving. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “While we can’t make up for all the trade they will lose over Christmas, I hope this new £1000 grant – on top of the furlough, VAT and business rates relief and existing grants, goes some way to help them weather the economic storm.”

The government responded to previous industry pressure with the release of its £1.57 billion culture recovery fund in August for live venues, clubs, and cultural institutions, while other businesses have been encouraged to apply for emergency grants. 

Growing evidence suggests spending time at indoor venues increases the likelihood of catching the virus, and that consuming alcohol reduces people’s abilities to follow social distancing rules.

However Greater Manchester night time economy advisor Sacha Lord is dissatisfied with the government’s treatment of the hospitality sector, calling the Christmas grant “an insulting token gesture” that will do little save Manchester’s venues.

He tweeted: “I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but Boris Johnson has just offered our wet led pubs £1,000.

“£1,000 will NOT save most of the 1806 wet led pubs across Greater Manchester. Our community pubs, most of which our in our most deprived areas.”

Lucy Powell, Manchester Central MP, said: ”Pubs will take this money but it’s not enough to stop them going bust.”

Photo credit: Tom Blackwell

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