The latest figures from hospitality software operator Fourth and Wi-Fi provider Wireless Social revealed there has been an 18% drop in hospitality staff headcount compared to September 2019, equating to 500,000 people (or almost one in five) losing their job since January.
What’s more, the survey also found that roughly 43% of the sector’s workforce remain on furlough with the scheme set to wrap at the end of October before the introduction of the new Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).
Fourth’s data found the pub sector’s workforce was 15% smaller in September than it was the previous year, while the number of restaurant staff fell further, with a 19% drop.
The hotel sector had the greatest drop in headcount compared to September last year, with a 20% reduction.
Additionally, while the total number of hours worked across the hospitality sector in September was 20,283,957 and in line with the hours recorded in August, the figure was 48% down against September last year.
The pub sector saw an 8% reduction in hours worked compared to August, while restaurant hours were down by 2%.
“September has been incredibly tough for hospitality businesses, as the sector has been hit by further challenging restrictions that have impacted trading and consumer confidence,” Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said.
“The fact nearly half of the workforce remain on furlough, with the closure of the scheme on 31 October is concerning.
“However, this is an extremely innovative and resilient sector, and it’s vital that operators continue to think and act dynamically, particularly around the way they schedule labour to ensure they have the right number of team members in place, to deliver guests the experience they expect.”
The decreased working hours is reflected by a drop in footfall, with Wireless Social’s tracker finding that the national average was 39% below pre-Covid levels on 5 September, compared to 42% below the average on 26 September.
The weekend of 3 October also registered the lowest figures since early August, coming in at 46% below average levels.