55% of operators lack confidence about winter trade

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Lacking confidence: Winter could be rocky for Britain's pubs (Credit: Getty/ HAKINMHAN)
Lacking confidence: Winter could be rocky for Britain's pubs (Credit: Getty/ HAKINMHAN)

Related tags Finance Tenanted + leased Gastropub

Most operators lack confidence about trade in the coming winter months, with gastropubs reporting they are quieter than usual, new data has revealed.

Of all 106 respondents to the recent survey by The Morning Advertiser,​ 34% said they felt ‘moderately unconfident’ about winter trade, with a quarter (25%) feeling ‘neutral’.

Furthermore, 21% of respondents felt ‘very unconfident’ about trade over the winter period. However, 18% of operators said they felt ‘moderately confident’ about winter trade.

Only 2% of respondents said they felt ‘very confident’ about trade over winter.

Stephen Harris, owner of the Sportsman in Seasalter, Kent said he was cautious about the later winter months of January, February and March as expected these months to be quieter than usual.

However, he said the weekends and later week were busy enough for the pub to be “chipping along”.

Gareth Ostick, owner of the White Swan at Fence in Lancashire said September was busier than he was expecting but he could still do with more people through the door.

Tentatively confident 

He predicted that the pub was going to be alright throughout the winter months due to its reputation.

Ostick has a strong database of customers he can reach out to if things get tough, and Christmas day was already fully booked, which gave him confidence.

“The demand is here, and it’s still strong I don’t think that’s changed over the years,” he said.

He hoped money made over Christmas would see the pub through January. “We’re taking each month as it comes,” he added.

Last year, two in five pubs said Christmas trade was worse than they had predicted it would be.

Looking back

The sector was hit by the triple whammy of rail strikes, soaring energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis over December in what UKHospitality dubbed​​ “a winter challenge like no other”. 

Of the 115 operators that responded to a poll by The Morning Advertiser​​, 43% found Christmas trade to be poorer than anticipated.

However, 38% of pubs found the festive trading period to be better than expected.

Furthermore, 18% of operators said trade was as expected. 

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