City pubs see 50% decline in weekend sales following rail strikes

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Low levels of trade: city pubs hit hard as limited rail services provided over the weekend due to strikes (Credit: Getty/Dan Pratt)
Low levels of trade: city pubs hit hard as limited rail services provided over the weekend due to strikes (Credit: Getty/Dan Pratt)

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Weekend rail strikes saw hospitality sales “hugely affected”, particularly in London and Manchester, with some city pubs having reported a 50% decline in sales, according to S4labour and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Hospitality labour management company, S4labour, stated sales in London were down 30% compared to the previous week while pubs in Manchester reported declines of 17%.

S4labour chief innovation officer Richard Hartley said: “The rail strikes have hugely affected urban areas, where consumers rely more on public transport. 

“Sites near to rail stations have been hit very hard, with many reporting very low levels of trade.”

Mixed bag

However, for some multi-site businesses, the advantage of operating across different areas meant the impact of the strikes​ was lessened.

Frisco Group managing director Heath Ball said: "It was a bit of a mixed bag for us.

“The Red Lion and Sun in Highgate, North London, was extremely busy as stay at home commuters headed to the pub for lunch and the occasional post ‘working from home’ refreshments.

“However, the Wenlock [in East London], which relies more heavily on commuters was impacted.

“Over these two and our other site in Sussex, it was pretty much a zero-sum game for the group, a benefit from operating sites across different areas."

New hurdles 

More than 50,000 rail​ operatives across multiple companies took part in the biggest network dispute for more than 30 years between Tuesday (21 June) and Saturday (25 June) last week, with train and tube services severely reduced.

This comes as trade body UKHospitality (UKH) last week predicted the strikes could cost the sector £540m​.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Pubs have had a difficult week with transport disruptions, with some city centre pubs reporting a 50% fall in sales.

“As an industry we really are trying hard to bounce back after the pandemic, but we are faced time and time again with new hurdles from rising costs to labour shortages and now severe transport disruption​.

“It is imperative to the health of our industry further strikes​ are avoided so customers and staff alike are able to travel with confidence and keep our pubs thriving.”


Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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