Despite government advice not saying so, the impact of government advisors briefing against that advice and telling people to limit social activity is starting to see an impact.
Larger companies are already telling staff to cancel their Christmas parties, with Sainsbury’s coming out ahead of the weekend to tell its teams that the party season was over and urging them to cancel their Christmas plans with colleagues.
The move has been prompted by the government’s decision to change the rules so that all contacts of new variant cases must self-isolate even if fully jabbed, and this, added to the background panic-mongering of some of the health advisors is having a severe knock on effect.
Operators across the sector are reporting cancellations on a large scale, as many other companies follow suit to avoid either having a staff crisis, or being accused of ruining employees Christmas plans.
So yet again, operators find themselves in an impossible situation - they can’t close down and claim support, and they are left with huge stock holdings that are likely to now go to waste.
A silver lining?
The slight silver lining of the situation is that a lot of people are pushing their parties over into January, so we may see a more active and busy month than normal, but that won’t solve the immediate problem of stock and resources in the run-up to Christmas.
Clever operators might find ways to adapt and shift demand around, but the challenge for a sector that is already on its knees feels like we’re being once again kicked on the ground.
All this, despite the fact the World Health Organisation has described the effects of the variant as “mild”, may well feel like the final straw.
I guess we should be careful what we wish for, as previously, Boris and his team have been accused of being too slow to react to the situation in the past, this time they’ve acted with almost indecent speed without knowing all the facts.
The one thing the trade can hope for is that come the 18th December, the runes will be pointing in our favour, the evidence of the genuine threat of the variant clear, and we’ll be allowed to open up trade again.
Sadly, for many, and certainly those party bookings, the 18th will be a little too late in the day.