The Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners showed around 41,000 venues in Britain have a car park, garden, terrace or other area that could seat customers – just 38.2% of all sites.
When broken down, 80.5% community pubs are able to offer external areas compared to just 11.9% of casual dining restaurants.
The report also looked at different corners of the country showing in the south west of England, about half (51.1%) of sites have outside areas but in London, this number is below a third (33.1%).
In Wales, hospitality is set to reopen outside from Thursday 22 April and some 42.1% of sites have external space.
However, for the Scottish on-trade, which is permitted to open outdoors from Monday 26 April, less than a quarter (22.9%) have that capacity.
Recoup the costs
CGA business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, Karl Chessell said: “With huge pent-up demand for hospitality and consumers’ confidence rising, outside trading could give sales a useful kickstart but there are a lot of variables at play.
“Pubs with beer gardens will be popular if the sun shines but some restaurants may find it harder to recoup the costs of reopening, especially if the April weather isn’t favourable.
“More than half of licensed premises have no space at all in which to trade, thought they could reopen in April if local authorities take a proactive approach and open up street spaces to serve on.”
The latest edition of the Market Recovery Monitor looked at the impact of the pandemic on the trade over the past year.
For independent venues, there has been a net drop of more than 5,000 sites since March last year while the managed sector recorded less than a quarter of that.
Looking at major city centres including Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield, these areas all lost fewer than 3% of their licensed premises since March 2020.
Far from out of the woods
However, smaller cities such as Plymouth, Aberdeen, Worcester, Exeter and Swansea all lost more than 10%.
AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith said: “We’ve seen a spate of operators announce plans to reopen for outdoor service on 12 April and while it’s unlikely to be profitable for the majority to do so, businesses will do all they can to maximise their usable space.
“For those that do reopen, managing cashflow will now be of critical importance as work with supply chains begins again and relationships with suppliers, landlords and other stakeholders will be tested.
“There is potential to drive stronger and more efficient operations on the other side of the pandemic, but the many in the sector will be weighed down by debt for some time to come and will spend the next year and beyond rebuilding their balance sheets and clearing their arrears.
“The overhang of rent liabilities also remains largely unresolved, which means in spite of the clear pent-up consumer demand that exists, the hospitality sector is far from out of the woods.”