Britain’s Pub Sales Slumped by a Third Under October Curbs

November 13, 2020 Updated: November 13, 2020

New analysis shows pub and restaurant sales slumped by a third in October, as the three-tier curb system and rule-of-six began to bite.

The figures, published by CGA today, give a snapshot of the industry before the current second national lockdown that has shut all pubs and restaurants.

“Drink-led pubs and bars have been particularly badly hit, and with England now in full-lockdown, you can only wonder how many will re-emerge in their current state, how many will have to revamp their trading styles, including switching their emphasis to food,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA.

According to CGA, total sales were down 33.9 percent on the same month last year across the whole industry.

Restaurants have faired a little better than pubs. Bar groups had the worst of the month, making less than half of their usual sales.

Takings were buoyed up by a final flurry of sales in the final days before the month-long lockdown. In contrast, food and drink sales dropped before the first national lockdown.

Over the summer, the industry had rebounded after the first national lockdown that kept pub doors shut for over three months.

But as new measures came into force in the autumn, the industry had warned it could prove catastrophic for businesses that had only just started to get back on their feet.

Sales in August were 12 percent down, dropping a further 20 percent in September as the rule of six was introduced.

Then came the three-tier system.

“What’s crystal clear is that even before total lockdown in England, the imposition of Tier 2 and 3 restrictions across large swathes of northern England, as well as the tough restrictions in Scotland and Wales, had a massive negative impact on sales performance,” said Chessell.

One-third of the nation’s pubs were shut during the month of October, according to a CGA report.

Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at RSM, which worked with CGA on the report, said, “It is impossible to put a positive gloss on such depressing results in the last full month of trading prior to England’s second lockdown.”

Following the introduction of the “rule of six” and the later three-tier system, brewery Marsten’s said it was going to have to axe around one in six of the jobs that had been put on ice by the furlough.

Before the second national lockdown, landlords had begged for financial support without which they said many businesses would collapse. Many in the industry welcomed the eleventh-hour announcement by the government that the furlough scheme was to be extended for a further six months, but have called on the government to rethink local lockdown measures in the future.

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