More than a million jobs in hospitality and retail sectors could be lost by end of 2020
THE coronavirus pandemic could wipe out more than one million jobs from the retail and hospitality sectors, experts have warned.
During the first lockdown around 125,000 store jobs were lost as 11,120 household-name retail outlets closed and it is feared this could be just the tip of the iceberg as new lockdown measures are underway.
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Leading figures in the hospitality industry have warned as many as 750,000 jobs could go in their sector alone by early next year while a total of 255,000 retail jobs could be lost by the end of 2020.
Kay Neufeld, from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said it was “plausible” there could be more than one million job losses just in the retail and hospitality sectors.
The think-tank The Social Market Foundation warned: “Reduced demand for office space, and a seemingly inevitable decline of traditional retail, risk creating ghost towns and city centres.”
The British Chamber of Commerce has predicted “hundreds of thousands of job losses” as the furlough scheme comes to an end, which currently supports more than two million workers.
The British Beer and Pub Association has said more than one in four of the UK’s 39,700 pubs may not survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Greene King is planning to close 79 pubs, putting 800 jobs at risk.
Young’s, Wetherspoons, Fuller’s and City Pub Company have all said they will cut several hundred jobs.
Greene King’s Nick Mackenzie said: “Pubs are becoming increasingly unviable.
“This means extending furlough to cover all hospitality venues hit by restrictions, not just those forced to close, extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday and cutting beer duty.”
Half of businesses are now expected to fail over the winter unless an improved rescue package is devised by Ministers, a study has revealed.
More than three-quarters are failing to break even with only one in ten are trading in profit, a survey of the sector found.
Pubs and restaurants bosses forecast the sector faces a catastrophic future unless more government support is granted in the coming weeks.
Eighty-nine per cent of those working in the sector were pessimistic about its future – with only three per cent taking an optimistic stance.
Almost half of those questioned believe restrictions will hit their turnover by more than fifty persent if they continue over the Christmas period.
The findings were uncovered in a survey of members of UK Hospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer and Pub Association.
There are major concerns across the sector with furlough due to end in two weeks and the Job Support Scheme not seen as viable for the hospitality sector.
The study shows there will be 750,000 less jobs in the sector compared to February 2020 unless action is taken.
There are fears the situation could be even worse as the industry was quizzed before the full extent of the ‘three-tier’ system kicked in.
Pubs and restaurants in tier three can’t open unless they serve a full food menu. They can open in tier two but households must sit together and they are subject to a 10pm curfew.
Only in tier one can they serve groups of no more than six and subject to a 10pm curfew.
A joint spokesperson for the trade bodies said: “There can be no doubt of the devastating impact that the Government’s restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses across the UK.
“Without urgent sector-specific support for our industry, massive business failure is imminent and hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost around Christmas from a sector that was in growth at the beginning of this year, as well as in the supply chain that supports them.
“While there are any restrictions placed on hospitality and pubs, there must be financial support inplace across all tiers of risk.”
A Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve put in place a comprehensive plan to protect, support and create jobs in every region and nation of the UK, with more than £200bn of support since March – with particular support provided to the hospitality sector.
“And our Winter Economy Plan will ensure this continues in the difficult weeks and months to come – providing a toolkit of support for all situations.
“Our expanded Job Support Scheme will protect jobs in businesses that are open or closed, we’ve increased grants for firms required to close and are providing additional funding for local authorities and devolved administrations.
“This is alongside existing support measures including extended VAT cuts, businesses rates holidays and our extended loan schemes.”
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