December set to be weakest trading period of 2021

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Dog at Wingham: "We've lost bookings worth over £2000, so Omicron is costing us."
The Dog at Wingham: "We've lost bookings worth over £2000, so Omicron is costing us."

Related tags: Kent, Omicron, Health and safety, Coronavirus

December is set to be the weakest trading month of the year following the surge in Omicron cases and the announcement of Plan B restrictions causing cancellations, lost revenue, and decreased footfall, according to one Kent-based operator.

In the week before the emergence of Omicron, the Dog at Wingham, Canterbury, traded to a net revenue of £32,000, however the following the week trade was down by 20% with a forecast of a further 30% drop for the upcoming week.

Owner of the Dog, Marc Bridgen said: “Last Friday, we lost a booking of six rooms and 12 for dinner, two to five days in a row, we've lost bookings worth over £2,000, so Omicron is costing us.

Balancing the books and public health 

“December is probably going to be the weakest month of the year since we reopened; May, June, July, August, September, October and November, have all been bigger than any month pre coronavirus, even the festive season 2019.

“We're either close to zero revenue, or we're having record breaking months, but because of the pandemic, this December is going to go backwards again, it's going to struggle to beat any month this year, and it will struggle to beat December 2019.”

But Bridgen explained it was not just the business ‘struggling to make ends meet’ and balance the books alongside public health, the pubs staff have been heavily impacted by isolation rules as when one staff member is off with coronavirus, many team members will have to isolate and get PCR tests.

This could mean several team members have their hours reduced, for example if one of the chefs are off, the pub cannot serve as many customers and will not need as many front of house staff for that particular shift.

Not such a merry Christmas 

He said: “I've got 10% of my team currently suffering with coronavirus, none of them are confirmed Omicron, but they have coronavirus.

“Two thirds of our team are on zero-hour contracts, and they won't get quite as many hours in December as we all hoped they would get, also, because we're not going to be quite as bumper as we should be, there won’t be as much service charge, which the whole team shares.

“This will financially affect the business, but it also financially affects two thirds of our staff, this time of year with the corporates and big parties and big spenders, they often pay on top of the service charge, or they'll pay the service charge, and then also give some extra cash to the teams that's going to be missing, so it might not be quite as merry a Christmas for the team, as we all hoped it would be.”

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