After last year’s debacle in which the Government flip-flopped from decision to decision, and empty promises from Boris Johnson, many operators found themselves caught out, having to plan for something that was whisked away at the last minute.
We now approach this year’s festivities with a cautious but optimistic mindset - are we going to be allowed a free run at it this year? Once again, Boris has promised, but we know just how reliable our current esteemed leader is, so I certainly won’t be putting any stock in anything he says.
The implementation of Plan B would be a potential disaster for the trade, as, yet again, a lot of the measures seem to be aimed at the hospitality sector.
The late night sector has taken more than its fair share of knocks in the last couple of years, and the idea of vaccine passports being introduced hangs over them like a sword of damocles. We’re already seeing the ruinous nature of such a policy in Scotland, with one recent nightclub taking the huge decision to rip out its dancefloor to try and avoid being subject to the scheme, which it says has decimated its trade.
However, under Plan B, the biggest fear for many in the trade would be further lockdowns, and while many feel this would be a serious last resort, it remains a possibility, and one that makes planning for Christmas trade hard enough - whatever the Government has planned, it needs to be clear and communicate well in advance its intentions to give operators as much time as possible to mitigate any damage.
Even without these issues hanging over our heads, Christmas is going to be a challenge - consumer behaviour is changing, and Christmas party season will be impacted. Operators are already reporting changes in corporate behaviour, which means office Christmas celebrations are being scrapped.
We face a tumultuous time ahead, and those that think the pandemic mayhem is behind us might need to think again.