According to job portal Adzuna, the number of advertised hospitality jobs on Dec. 5 was 80,327, down from 107,782 the week before to the lowest level since the start of August.
Adzuna said the drop in vacancies bucked seasonal trends and confirmed that the hospitality and catering sector has already been hard hit by cancelled Christmas party bookings and diners eating out less, amid caution around Omicron.
“Employers are holding back as they wait and see the effect of the variant, be that cancelled Christmas bookings or staffing issues caused by employees needing to isolate,” Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna.
Hospitality businesses are currently facing significant challenges with recruitment as a result of ongoing labour shortages across the sector.
The Adzuna data comes as Bloomberg analysis of OpenTable restaurant bookings data reveals that reservations have fallen since the new variant emerged in late November.
For the week ending 3 December, the five-day weekday average of diners was down 1.19% compared with the equivalent week in 2019.
The previous week, bookings were 10% ahead of 2019 levels.
It was the first time the measure has been negative in over six months, since the week ending May 14.
For London, which has been persistently below the 2019 baseline, bookings were down 26.6%, the lowest since early August when the holiday season was in full swing and workers were likely to be away.
There are reports today (8 November) that work from home plans are being drafted by the Government as Prime Minister Boris Johnson considers bringing in tougher measures to slow down the spread of Omicron.
According to The Telegraph, officials working on Covid policy have carried out modelling on the economic impact of urging people to work from home over the Christmas and New Year period.
Part of the Government's 'Plan B', a working from home order would have disastrous consequences for Christmas trade across the board, but especially businesses in city centres.
It is also understood that plans are being drawn up to introduce so-called 'vaccine passports' in some hospitality settings.