Almost a quarter of operators’ outdoor trade ‘barely worth reopening’ for

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Sector survey: hospitality operators were asked about their level of confidence in the future of their businesses
Sector survey: hospitality operators were asked about their level of confidence in the future of their businesses

Related tags lockdown coronavirus Pubs England London MCA Insight Beer garden Legislation Health and safety

Operators have detailed a mixed bag of trade experiences since reopening on 12 April, an industry survey has revealed.

The Hospitality Leaders Poll, conducted by Lumina Intelligence, on behalf of The Morning Advertiser, MCA, Big Hospitality and Restaurant​, included 191 operators, of which, over a third (34%) said they had not reopened yet. 

What’s more, less than a quarter of those surveyed (23%) said their business has been very poor and ‘barely worth reopening’ for since rules were eased on Monday 12 April in England to permit outdoor trade.

Less than one-in-10 of those surveyed (9%) mentioned being very busy and experiencing an ‘extremely encouraging start’, while just over two-in-five respondents (43%) said they had been ‘busy, with some moderate level of trade’.

Overall, some 43% of those asked reported some level of 'busy' trade.

Welcoming back customers

Pub operators described the enthusiasm of customers returning to their sites for a drink in the sun to The Morning Advertiser​ since outdoor trade resumed.

However, licensees also raised areas of concern with trading restrictions including customer resistance to using the NHS app for contact tracing and hostility from local authorities in regards to outside structures.

In the poll, operators were asked if they had invested in outside space for drinking and dining ahead of the reopening date.

Of those hospitality operators surveyed, seven-in-10 respondents (70%) mentioned investing in outdoors space.

Just over half respondents (54%) said they had invested a moderate or significant amount in outside facilities. 

What's more, nearly a fifth of those surveyed (22%) said they have no plans to invest in outside dining or sitting.

Confidence levels

It comes as around 23.2% of England’s 89,963 licensed premises were trading by Thursday 15 April, according to the Market Recovery Monitor​ from CGA and AlixPartners.

Many pub operators are waiting to reopen in anticipation of indoor service being permitted from 17 May under the Government’s lockdown easing roadmap.

When asked how confident they were about the future of their business, more than one-in-10 (12%) said they were ‘very confident’ while a quarter (25%) described themselves as ‘confident’. 

Just over four-in-ten (41%) said they felt ‘quite confident’ about the future of their pub business, meaning some 77% overall described a degree of confidence.

However, less than a quarter (23%) said they were ‘not confident’.

At the end of March, an edition of the survey found 69% of hospitality operators had some levels of confidence with the remaining third (31%) ‘not confident’.

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