Across the restaurant and casual dining sector more than 1,600 restaurants undertook their final service in 2020 with almost 30,000 staff losing their jobs as the economic impact of Covid-19 took its toll.
End of year figures compiled by the Centre for Retail Research show, during the 2020 calendar year, a total 29,684 jobs were lost across fine dining, independent businesses and large multiple casual-dining chains up 163% on the 11,280 jobs lost during the whole of 2019.
Branch closures in 2020 rose by 75.8% reaching 1,621 up from 922 in 2019 with significant reductions in branches and employee numbers at Pizza Express, SSP Group, Casual Dining Group/The Big Table, The Restaurant Group, M&B, Harvester Beefeater and Pret a Manger. Independent operators suffered too.
Hospitality was severely impacted during 2020 by coronavirus regulations, unable to trade for parts of the year, covers reduced by ‘social distancing’ regulations and suffering from a proportion of risk-avoiding diners as well lower demand resulting from the fall in shopper footfall.
According to the real estate adviser Altus Group, in England, given the Tier adjustments which came into effect on New Year’s Eve, 4,946 restaurants are in Tier 3 whilst a further 22,082 are in Tier 4 and are all closed save for takeaway. Altus Group say just 5 restaurants in the Isles of Scilly now remain open for diners.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of the Centre for Retail Research, says coronavirus has accelerated changes that were already taking place within the sector adding “the sector experienced rapid growth in outlets during 2014 to 2017 as successful chains added additional branches. But they frequently paid too much whilst maintaining quality standards proved difficult. The need to cut costs caused by over-expansion, increased competition and weak consumer demand produced a crisis in the industry before the pandemic.”
The end of year numbers will be a blow to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, given the £849 million Eat Out To Help Out scheme which saw diners seeing their restaurant bills slashed by as much as 50% in August.