Nearly a quarter of bars, pubs and clubs yet to reopen after lockdown

Almost a quarter of pubs, bars and other licensed premises were still closed at the end of last month, according to new figures.

Hospitality venues were forced to shut their doors in March, but were given the go-ahead to welcome customers from July 4.

However, new figures from the latest market recovery report by CGA and AlixPartners has shown that nearly 27,000 licensed premises are yet to reopen.

It said that 76.3% of venues had reopened by the end of the month, increasing from 61.7% at the end of July.

Meanwhile, only 68.2% of independent sites have reopened, compared with 89.1% of chain-owned businesses.

Pubs have been quicker to return after the end of lockdown than other venues, with 89.4% of community pubs now welcoming regulars again.

Two thirds, 67.2%, of bars and 54.8% of licensed sports and social club venues, are back open, according to the research.

The closed Bridle Lane pub in Leicester
The closed Bridle Lane pub in Leicester after a local lockdown was put in place in July (Mike Egerton/PA)

Karl Chessell, director for food and retail at CGA, said: “After the sector’s toughest ever spring and early summer, it is pleasing to see more than 15,500 venues reopened over August, but concerning that nearly one in four licensed premises are still shut.

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme and VAT cut had the desired effects of encouraging more operators to reopen and stimulate trade, and there was some pleasing progress for the casual dining restaurant sector.

“However, new restrictions on gatherings, slow London footfall and the risk of local lockdowns all give cause for caution as we move into the autumn.”

On Friday, the Coffer Peach business tracker said reopened hospitality businesses saw like-for-like sales in August stay flat against the same month last year after a strong rebound driven by Eat Out to Help Out.

However, this meant that food-led business, such as restaurants and some pubs, performed notably better, with drink-led pubs and bars posting significant like-for-like sales slumps.

AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith said: “The data also highlights stark regional variations in the reopening of the sector, and in particular the ongoing struggle for footfall in central London.

“The capital remains behind other major cities when it comes to reopened sites, largely due to a significant reduction in the number of office workers and tourists.

“While numbers are expected to pick up during the autumn months, many operators may continue to delay reopening or be forced into making difficult decisions on where they are able to operate profitably.”

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