Hospitality Ulster calls for lifting of NI restrictions after worst trading week in months

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Plummeting sales: Hospitality's worst week of trading in eight weeks was the week starting 3 January
Plummeting sales: Hospitality's worst week of trading in eight weeks was the week starting 3 January

Related tags Northern ireland New year Finance Hospitality Ulster Colin Neill

Hospitality Ulster has called for strict measures to be lifted and nightclubs reopened in Northern Ireland, after data revealed the week commencing 3 January 2022 to be hospitality’s worst week of trading in two months.

The data, generated by the latest Hospitality Ulster survey, showed plummeting trade with 98% of Hospitality Ulster members experienced a drop in drink sales with at least one in two members seeing sales fall by more than 50%, compared to the same week in 2019. 

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neill said: “The latest survey results paint a dire picture of where our industry currently is after almost two years of restrictions and closures.  

“It is no exaggeration to say the hospitality sector has never been in a worse position with over 96% of trade down from 2019 in food, drink and accommodation sales”. 

The extent of the impact has deepened, with two and a half times as many members reporting a drop in food and drink sales of more than 50% over the week, compared to the 15 November 2021 (20%) when Covid Passes were first introduced in Northern Ireland. 

NYE drop

The deterioration over the new year, when restrictions came into place, is particularly striking. Around one in five members making food and drink sales reported sales were down by more than 70% for the week of the 27 December 2021. 

This has worsened further during the week commencing 3 January 2022, with at least one in four members’ food and drink sales have fallen by more than 70%. 

Neill said the financial burden of restrictions was becoming apparent, with members concerned that the cost of unused stock due to poor footfall and restriction, looming tax bills and the cost of extra staff to enforce Covid restrictions is seriously straining business.  

“Almost a month on, and without financial assistance, severe damage has been done to the hospitality sector,” he said. 

Uphill battle

He continued: “The Executive must now take swift action to remove these punishing restrictions and let our sector begin to build back trade and custom in the uphill battle to regain our place as a driver of the Northern Ireland economy. 

“Moving past the removal of restrictions, a dedicated hospitality strategy must be developed and implemented to support the sector rebuild and regrow. In March 2021, we delivered our post-pandemic recovery plan. We urge the Executive to use our strategy as a template and work with us to create a thorough action plan that will ensure businesses can get back on the right footing and address the debt and devastation that has been caused. 

“We cannot go back to dither and delay. The Executive must take note of the impact and lift the restrictions when it meets on Thursday. The hospitality sector cannot wait any longer.” 

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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