‘90 per cent of Hastings pubs and bars trading at a loss’ due to Covid

Almost 90 per cent of pubs and bars in Hastings and the surrounding areas are trading at a loss, according to a survey.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 9:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 10:34 am
John Bownas SUS-200312-101015001
John Bownas SUS-200312-101015001

Only about 10 per cent can get through another three months of Covid restrictions without facing potentially crippling debts, the survey said.

Hastings BarWatch carried out the survey of pub owners and managers, which also found almost 15 per cent of venues in the borough and neighbouring Rother already in a financial crisis.

With Covid rates in the town rising sharply, the impact of the Government’s Tier 2 restrictions are being made worse as each day goes by, Hastings Barwatch said.

The survey heard that bars believed customers, who were already put off by the need to combine a drink with a meal, as well as being banned from meeting anyone outside their household, are now also concerned they could be adding to the rise in positive cases locally.

John Bownas, manager of Barwatch, who sent out the survey, said: “The sector really is a at a crunch point and the Government needs to step up and take action now.

“The first round of grants may have been a nice little windfall for some small businesses, but for many pubs they were an absolute lifeline.

“Now the playing field has been changed. The assumption seems to be that by saying venues in tier two areas can open for business means they don’t need much extra financial support.

“But, as this survey shows, that is far from the truth. This may be only a small snapshot, but my guess is these results will be reflected across the country.

“We will soon start to see the true economic ‘long Covid’ impact on businesses in this sector as their cash reserves and borrowing arrangements dry up while they’re still haemorrhaging money on rent, wages, and other unavoidable bills.”

The anonymous survey generated a variety of comments from pub managers and owners, including phrases such as ‘people are just confused’, and ‘compulsory food is putting a lot of people off’.

Hastings Barwatch said this was reflected in the finding that more than 75 per cent had seen a reduction in customers through the door over the past week at a time when bookings would traditionally have been on the increase from Christmas parties.

John added: “The very real fear we have is that these doors will stay closed even after restrictions are lifted. And right now the Government isn’t giving us any clue as to when that might happen or even what the trigger might be for them to make the decision.

“It feels like a horror film where we are driving on a motorway in the fog and don’t know which exit we are supposed to take to get back to normality.”

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