UCL’s Covid-19 Social Study revealed of the 28,495 people surveyed in the UK between 21 March and 27 March, 38% were worried about their finances, up from 32% in January and the highest since the pandemic began.
This comes as operators face a “tsunami” of cost increases, such as an increase in VAT, national insurance, minimum wage contributions and food and energy prices, with some fearing the rising cost of living poses a bigger threat to the sector than Covid as consumers and operators a like struggle to take in continuously rising costs across the board.
Tsunami of price rises
The Bath Pub Company managing director Joe Cussens said: “On top of the tsunami of other price rises, all of our suppliers building up their prices, we've got this massive increase in costs, with no help or support at all, or even words of encouragement from the Treasury, and at the same time, you've got customers who are feeling squeezed because of their energy prices.”
Furthermore, recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed inflation reached 6.2% in February with new data to be released tomorrow (Wednesday 13 April) expected to show more increases for March.
Licensee of the Onslow Arms, in Loxwood, West Sussex, Rob Barr said: “Rising costs are obviously a huge concern for us all, the real challenge is they are all coming at the same time and off the back of the pandemic allowing for no real breathing space for us all.”
Consumers still cautious
Other recent data from ONS also showed overall GDP grew 1% in the three months to February with the accommodation and food services sectors the main contributors to the service industry’s growth for that period.
However, drinks sales were down 2% in the week to Saturday 2 April, according to the latest CGA Drinks Recovery Tracker.
CGA managing director UK & Ireland Jonny Jones said: “Real-terms growth continues to be elusive, and consumers are clearly still cautious about both their spending and Covid infection rates.”