Hospitality ‘generally optimistic’ despite Covid disruption, study finds

Despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry, hospitality businesses are “mostly positive” about the future, according to a survey of 141 sector operators by accountancy firm Haysmacintyre.

The 2021 Haysmacintyre ‘UK Hospitality Snapshot Survey’ revealed “encouraging signs of confidence” amongst the sector, even before the prime minister set out his roadmap to recovery and extended support measures were announced in the March Budget.

According to the firm, hotel businesses are the most positive about the future, with 83% feeling confident, compared to restaurants who were slightly less optimistic at 53%. Pubs and bars were the least optimistic of the group, with 59% either uncertain or lacking in confidence for their prospects looking forward.

The survey also showed that 69% of businesses believe that trading levels will return to normal either by the end of this year or the first half of next year. However, despite being most confident about the future of their businesses, hotels estimated that their return to normal trading would take longer, in what is perhaps a reflection of the likely slower return of normal tourism and travel.

Compared to restaurants, pubs and bars were generally less optimistic about the length of time before a return to normality.

The survey also highlighted that:

  • Three quarters of respondents who set up delivery and takeaway services as a result of the pandemic plan to continue to provide this service as restrictions are eased
  • 78% of businesses who have switched to online sales (including DIY meal kits) plan to continue to offer these
  • Pubs and bars led the charge towards new technologies, with nearly half of those surveyed implementing ordering and payment apps as part of social distancing measures; these technologies are here to stay for 95% of hospitality businesses who have adopted them during the pandemic
  • Looking ahead, changes in working patterns, changes in consumer preferences or behaviours and an ongoing adherence to distancing and hygiene measures, were anticipated to be the three most significant impacts arising from the pandemic

Gareth Ogden, partner in the hospitality team at Haysmacintyre, said: “The hospitality industry has undeniably been hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis. However, despite the challenges, this Survey reveals that many in the sector remain positive. Even before the prime minister’s roadmap to recovery was announced, there were operators looking to the future with optimism, confident that trading will return to normal levels within the next year.

“One of the industry’s greatest strengths has always been its resilience. Now you can add adaptability and ingenuity to that list of strengths. Combined with the announcement in the Budget of extensions to various support measures for the sector, a new recovery loans scheme and hospitality grants, the hope is that this innovation will aid the sector’s transition back to normal trading operations.”

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