1 in 3 businesses reduce Xmas opening hours

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Shutting up shop: Staffing shortage will hit sector over festive period (Getty/ EvgeniiAnd)
Shutting up shop: Staffing shortage will hit sector over festive period (Getty/ EvgeniiAnd)

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UKHospitality (UKH) has urged Government to tackle the recruitment crisis, after data revealed one third of businesses were reducing Christmas opening hours due to staff shortages.

The Future Shock report for UKH in partnership with CGA and NielsenIQ, also showed the toll labour shortages have taken on business confidence, with 60% of leaders no longer confident about recruitment.

The 12th​ edition of the report is focused on shaping the workforce of the future. It also revealed more than a third of businesses (35&) planned to simplify menus, 32% had been forced to reduce their opening hours and 13% had reduced opening days, all because of staff shortages.

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said the latest edition of Future Shock was “incredibly timely” as workforce challenges had become a fixture for hospitality businesses.

She said the sector was facing a systematic problem that had persisted for many years, and it needed urgent attention from Government.

“The statistics in the report lay bare the real-life impact on businesses and consumers as a result of not having enough staff,” Nicholls added.

Government support

She continued:” It’s so disappointing that businesses are having to go to such lengths such as simplifying menus and reducing trading hours to deal with this. It’s also doing the consumer a disservice, limiting choice and availability."

UKH has called on Government to implement a ‘two-phase’ approach to tackle the issue, with changes to the immigration system and reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy.

In particular, it asked for the Youth Mobility Scheme to include EU member states, and for the Shortage Occupation List to be reviewed to accurately reflect the state of the labour market.

It also called for abolishment of the Immigration Skills Charge, a punitive measure that is an added charge on top of other visa requirements.

The trade body also urged Government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy to include a proportion of funds being made eligible for use of non-apprenticeship training and an improvement of the operation of apprenticeship system.

Driving growth

“Implementing these measures, alongside reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to best develop our own talent, would help hospitality businesses no end,” said Nicholls. “With the right staffing resource, hospitality can really drive growth, offer customers an enhanced experience and help lift up the economy.”

CGA hospitality operators and food director Karl Chessell said the data showed the industry had been “resilient and resourceful” in the face of “ferocious headwinds”, with managed groups’ sales consistently ahead of pre-Covid levels.

“However,” he continued, “strong underlying demand is being compromised by a storm of cost and labour issues. As we see in this report, a shortage of labour is compromising trading for restaurants, pubs and bars and driving up pay.

“All these issues have hurt business confidence and profitability ahead of the crucial Christmas and New Year trading period.

“The challenges highlight the urgent need for targeted government support for hospitality, which UKH continues to work tirelessly to secure.”

Related topics Rebuilding the Pub Sector

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