The hospitality workforce has shrunk by more than a quarter against last year, with 660,000 sector job losses reported over the course of the past year, new statistics reveal.
The “devastating impact” of the pandemic was highlighted through new research published by Fourth, a software provider for the hospitality sector.
Fourth’s data, which has been aggregated from analysis of over 700 companies across the restaurant, pub, bar and QSR sectors, found that a total of 8,591 workers lost their jobs over the course of December, bringing the total number of sector job losses to roughly 660,000 for the year.
December saw the fewest job leavers since May, however, indicating that the continuation of the furlough scheme is helping to “protect and preserve a portion of jobs” in the marketplace.
The hospitality workforce shrunk by 3.5% in December, compared to a 4% decline in November, though there was still a 28% decline in overall staff headcount compared to December 2019.
Pubs experienced the least negative impact with a year-on-year drop in labour of 22% in the period. This is followed by QSRs with a drop of 30%, and the restaurant sector with a 31% drop. The most impacted sector was hotels, where there was a 33% reduction in labour compared to last year.
Despite job losses improving in December, sector recruitment remains at a standstill, with the number of new starters in December to 4,736, down 43% compared to the period from August to October.
The number of hours worked across the sector dropped by 63% in December, against the same month the previous year. Despite this significant year-on-year decline, it is still 49% greater than the number of hours worked in November.
According to Fourth, this “signifies how the transition from the second national lockdown into the revised tiered system enabled operators to briefly capitalise, where possible, on festive trading”.
Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “As we enter a new year, hospitality businesses would typically be reflecting on and celebrating a roaring festive trading period.
“But due to the pandemic, operators continued to suffer very difficult and challenging times in December, when many businesses were shut or running with severe restrictions, and are now faced with another lengthy period of little or no revenue.”
He added: “The fact that the number of sector job leavers remained low into December, compared to the spring and summer, is encouraging, as it proves the continued positive impact of the government re-committing to the furlough scheme.
“We anticipate a tough period ahead but, with the vaccine rollout gathering momentum, the end could soon be in sight. It’s important that hospitality businesses are ready for the lifting of restrictions, whenever that may be, and we look forward to supporting our customers and partners back onto their feet.”