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Survey reveals Covid impact on Northern hospitality sector

Half of hospitality businesses across the North of England were trading at a loss of more than 60% during the last four months, according to a new survey.

The NatWest North of England Tourism Barometer survey also found that a third of businesses report forward bookings for first quarter of 2021 are significantly down.

And a fifth of businesses surveyed said they are not sure that they will be trading next summer.

The study commenced in mid-July when the UK was emerging out of lockdown and covered a period up to and including the introduction of the government’s three tier alert level in late October.

At a roundtable event last week, leaders from across the north came together with businesses that participated in the survey and senior economists from NatWest Group.

Together they analysed the journey that the north of England’s tourism, hospitality and leisure sector undertook throughout the study period, how it can learn from the study, and move forward through the challenging winter and into recovery next year.
One of several key findings across the north of England that the study revealed is that businesses have, and continue, to carry significant losses to revenue, with 31% of businesses reporting a revenue loss of over 60% even at the peak of resumed business activity in late August.

This was when the visitor economy had largely reopened after the first lockdown and initiatives such as Eat Out to Help Out were having a positive impact.

Overall, around half of businesses were trading at a loss of over 60% for ten out of the sixteen weeks of the study.

Businesses across the north of England have had to make significant reductions to permanent and temporary staff, and from the end of September and throughout October half of businesses reported that they were downsizing their permanent staff over the next month.

‘Hospitality is integral to our city’s economy, supporting thousands of jobs,’ said Leeds City Council leader, Cllr Judith Blake.

‘Leeds is well known for community spirit and collaboration and our tourism businesses have worked extremely hard to put all measures in place to make them Covid-safe environments.

‘The tenacity and resilience they have shown during these incredibly difficult months has been inspiring. We will continue to work closely with local businesses in our hospitality sector throughout the pandemic and during the recovery, supporting them however we can, to continue to operate as viable businesses.’

Photo Credit – Carl Milner Photography for Visit Leeds

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