Covid-19 shrinks hospitality workforce by a quarter

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Tough period': 'It’s important that hospitality businesses are ready for the lifting of restrictions, whenever that may be,' Fourth's Sebastien Sepierre said
'Tough period': 'It’s important that hospitality businesses are ready for the lifting of restrictions, whenever that may be,' Fourth's Sebastien Sepierre said

Related tags: Jobs, Finance, Hospitality, Pubco + head office

In the region of 660,000 hospitality jobs were lost in 2020 according to the latest figures from sector software provider Fourth.

The huge job losses represent a 28% drop in overall hospitality staff headcount versus December 2019 according to Fourth – though pubs experienced the least negative impact with a year-on-year drop of 22%.

Fourth’s findings, compiled from more than 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and fast-food sectors, were revealed after a further 8,591 workers lost their jobs in December.

After the hospitality workforce shrunk by 4% in November, December’s 3.5% decrease in sector jobs was, however, the smallest decline since May. 

What’s more, although Fourth found that the number of hospitality hours worked dropped by almost two thirds (63%) in December year-on-year, it is still 49% greater than the number of hours worked in November while England was enduring its second national lockdown. 

‘Tough period ahead’

These latest figures come after a number of leading pub operators warned of job losses throughout 2020.

As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ in October, Suffolk-based brewer and pub operator Greene King​ revealed that it was preparing to close 79 venues and cut around 800 – around 2.1% of its 38,000 employees – due to stifled trade. 

Later that same month, Marston’s revealed that more than 2,000 roles were at risk​ due to enforced pub closures, while Whitbread​, the operator behind brands such as Brewers Fayre, Beefeater and Premier Inn, announced  in September that as many as 6,000 members of staff​​ could face redundancy.

Commenting on Fourth’s latest figures, the company’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Sebastien Sepierre, said: “As we enter a new year, hospitality businesses would typically be reflecting on and celebrating a roaring festive trading period. 

“But due to the pandemic, operators continued to suffer very difficult and challenging times in December, when many businesses were shut or running with severe restrictions and are now faced with another lengthy period of little or no revenue.”

Sepierre added that while the relatively low number of sector job leavers in December is a source of encouragement, it is critical that “top-level financial support” such as the furlough scheme remains in place.

“We anticipate a tough period ahead but, with the vaccine rollout gathering momentum, the end could soon be in sight,” he said. “It’s important that hospitality businesses are ready for the lifting of restrictions, whenever that may be, and we look forward to supporting our customers and partners back onto their feet.”

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