Publicans share worrying stories of slowing trade

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Troubling times: pubs have shared their experiences of slow trade and a drop in bookings
Troubling times: pubs have shared their experiences of slow trade and a drop in bookings

Related tags Coronavirus

Pubs have expressed their concerns about the impact of coronavirus on their businesses with The Morning Advertiser (MA).

It comes as one of the largest trade bodies has called on the Government to protect and support pubs while cases of Covid-19 in the UK continue to rise.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls described the situation as “a unique short-term cash flow catastrophe”.

Jennie Croft owns the Fleece at Rillington, North Yorkshire, and said trade had been slow even for this time of year in recent weeks.

She said: “We [are] pinning our hopes on people holidaying at home this year rather than overseas travel.”


Kerry Easton shared similar fears about operating a countryside pub on social media.

She said: “It’s frightening, we are a rural country pub and we are down a lot, Sunday lunch doesn’t seem to have been affected yet. This time of year is hard enough without this all going on.”

One publican, Ryan Sims-Atkins, said his site had experienced a drop in bookings and a slow weekend.

He told MA​ he only expected things to get worse: “The week was reasonable, however, Friday and Saturday were very quiet. It'll get worse before it gets better.

The operator added: “And we're an extremely clean pub. Five-star food hygiene, five-star Cask Marque cellar rating. Staff are extremely vigilant with cleaning and hand washing. [It’s] worrying really.”

Pub operators have anticipated a quiet Mother’s Day [Sunday 22 March] with bookings down and some customers cancelling planned lunches.

Danni Parker, general manager at the William Walker pub in Winchester, Hampshire, said: “Local trade, especially the older generation, has dropped massively. Mother’s Day not looking to be a sell-out like it usually is.

“However, being in a high tourist area, day-to-day numbers seem to have not been affected. But I imagine this will change over the next week or so.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said citizens, older than 70, will be told to stay at home for an extended period of time to protect themselves from the virus.

Footfall down

Christine Orton explained how the hit on trade had come at the time of year when trade usually picked up again after a tough period for pubs.

She explained: “We are not as busy as we would normally be at this time of year.

"We see March begin to pick up after the slower January and February months but, so far, this has not happened. It's a worrying time.”

Data tracking of trade yesterday (Sunday 15 March) at 800 hospitality venues by Wireless Social showed a 37% fall in footfall compared to the same day last year. Analysis of the past seven days showed there was a 25% fall compared to the same seven days last year.

One commentator on MA​’s Facebook page echoed the conclusions of research by CGA, which found 80% of people said coronavirus would not put them off pub visits

They said: “We went for a meal last Friday and our local was rammed.

“We will continue to support it, taking precautions (washing hands, etc) until information to the contrary is received.”

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