The number of booking cancellations in the industry was up 2% on 29 November and rose to +5% on 30 November, according to data collected by DesignMyNight.
Have you seen an increase in cancellations recently?
Not yet, but I am concerned16%
Owner of the Unruly Pig, in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield, said: “There is so much uncertainty still about the new strain, and because for once, the Government have not dithered but moved swiftly, I suspect this startling governmental proactively, whilst most welcome, has unnerved customers.
“The industry can help itself by not waiting for Boris and request all customers to wear masks now, It’s illogical to have to wear a mask on a train or in a shop and not in a pub, asking our customers to wear masks in the public areas, as used to be required, is a small burden.”
Poorly conceived communication
Covid restrictions were lifted on 19 July, but after the announcement of revised guidelines, DesignMyNight saw an increase in cancellations of 14% compared to the previous Saturday (20th November) and on Sunday 28th, cancellations were even higher when compared to the previous week, reaching an increase of 15%.
NTIA CEO Michael Kill said: “At the moment operating costs are at their highest, we are now faced with another poorly-conceived communications strategy from the Government which has and will severely impact businesses.
“Christmas bookings and advance ticket sales have already been hit following the announcement of the new Omicron variant.
“The Government needs to recognise that, while restrictions are not in place for the hospitality and night-time economy sectors, we are reliving the moments of March 2020 where the Prime Minister asked people not to go to pubs, bars, clubs and theatres."
Despite the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Health & Social Care having both stressed there was no reason to cancel Christmas parties, or Christmas outings in general, pubs could face more difficulties and uncertainties over one of the most important trading periods of the year, with office Christmas parties and big table bookings cancellations a concern for some publicans, who may not be able to fill a large table if cancelled last minute.
Hope for a successful Christmas
Licensee of the Spread Eagle, Homerton, Hackney, east London, Luke McLoughlin said: “We've had a few big parties cancel for this week, so it is a concern.
“When you've got a big area booked for twenty, thirty or forty people, having that cancelled and trying to refill that last minute, it's quite a challenge, the tables of 2, 4, and 6, are still coming through but it's the big bookings that I think are going to be affected.
“We've got a couple of weeks until we understand more about transmissibility of the new variant, and what the effects of the vaccines are, so I’m hopeful we'll have a successful run into Christmas, but that's yet to be seen.”