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Hospitality sector still struggling despite customers’ return to venues, UKH warns

According to a new survey, 45% of customers who haven’t yet been out claim 'they plan to do so' in the next month

Despite 56% of consumers returning to hospitality venues in the first 10 days after ‘Freedom Day’ last month, compared with 35% in 2020, thousands of businesses are still struggling compared to pre-pandemic, according to the latest UK Hospitality survey.

A survey by the group found that it took over six weeks for people to return in similar numbers in 2020, with 45% of those who haven’t yet been out claiming “they plan to do so” in the next month.

Furthermore, the figures suggest that this was due to consumer confidence in the “extensive” hygiene and safety measures put in place by hospitality venues.

At the end of the first lockdown last summer, hygiene and cleanliness were the number one consideration for people when deciding which venue to visit.

This year, that has slipped to fourth place behind price, convenience and quality of food, compared with re-pandemic, where hygiene and safety were the fifth priority for customers.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Eating and drinking out is safe and we encourage everyone to rediscover their favourite venues if they haven’t already. However, while rising customer numbers is welcome news, the hospitality sector is by no means out of the woods.

“Hospitality venues are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels of revenue with staff shortages hindering their recovery. In order to rebuild, the sector needs the government to put in place a supportive landscape which includes an extension of the business rates holiday until at least October and a permanently lower rate of VAT for the sector.”

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