05 Feb 21 by Lesley Anderson
Lockdown causing deep distress for pubs and wet-led venues
- Many pubs unlikely to survive without longer term Government support, particularly those that were struggling in 2019 and 2020
- Venues able to offer food through the pandemic have fared significantly better than wet led venues
- Demand for licensed property still outstripping supply in the South West
‘The commercial property agency team saw a peak in demand last Summer, which broadly followed the residential interest in the South West. Stock is still an issue with demand outstripping supply. and we continue to liaise with clients across the South West to work through strategies for the short to term for either continued trading and making the best of the year ahead or committing to the market for sale.’ Commented Michael Easton, Head of Hotels and Hospitality at Vickery Holman.
‘The pub sector had faced significant challenges pre COVID19 and the last year has largely delayed further reduction in the UK pub estate which has declined by over 20% in the past 20 years. The end of year restrictions and lockdown 3 has made a tough situation ever harder. This is despite a rise in tap rooms and gins bars in recent years, following the fashion for craft ales, growth in UK cider production and gin popularity which was the green shoots of a sector adapting with the change in physical social activity, pricing disparity from supermarket retailers and changing customer demands. The supports put in place during the last year have been beyond compare and has saved a wholesale exit from the sector from owners and operators alike, but this may have served only to save the struggling venues from imminent closure for the time being and more can most certainly be done beyond the latest lockdown to help venues and get customers back in force, once it is safe to do so.’ Added Mike Easton
Operators in the wet led venues, which are traditionally in city or large town settings and include social clubs and late night venues (nightclubs), have suffered most as whilst the simplest format to operate under they have not enjoyed the ‘Eat out to help out’ initiative nor could they trade in tier 2 let alone T3 regulations. Sites offering a more significant food offer have seen good levels of business when they can trade, particularly after lockdown 1, but customers struggled to understand the restrictions on numbers and more sterile trading environments. Across the sector it has been the larger, usually managed house, venues that have fared better and this looks set to continue into 2021 when restrictions are eases. The UK domestic tourism sector is widely expected to be in growth once they can safely open their doors, but it is the local venues, nightclubs and social clubs that are expected to be the slowest to return to some sort of normality – if they can survive that long.
Businesses are now looking to the vaccinations roll out for signs of life returning to hospitality. ‘The mood is people want to get back to some sort of normality as soon as possible. For employers to re-engage staff they will probably need support. and no more so that in the hospitality where 660,000 jobs were lost last year, according to the trade body UK Hospitality. As the third largest employer in the UK there has to be more support from government and a minster appointed to assist in putting the supports in place to help the operators get back on their feet.’
Alan Treloar, Director adds ‘As we all come to terms with the realities of the last 12 months and the outlook for the next, we have seen a marked increased in demand from clients for advice on leases, rates and support available to them as well as agency services. The South West will remain a popular location for business owners and demand remains strong. We assist clients with short to medium terms plans and have strengthened the team in the past months to deal with this.’
Contact the Commercial team in Exeter here: Tel: 01392 203010