Pubs face Christmas party bookings slump

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Pubs face Christmas party bookings slump

Related tags Christmas Pub & bar

Pubs are facing a slump in Christmas party bookings with figures showing them to be down by a fifth compared to pre-Covid levels.

The Times ​reports​ that a survey of 5,000 pubs conducted last week found that festive bookings are down by 20% compared to what was normal before the pandemic, despite this year’s festive season being the first since 2019 that will not see venues and customers encumbered by operational restrictions.

Rising numbers of office staff working from home, the cost of living crisis, and changing attitudes to alcohol have all been blamed for the drop in bookings. 

In a normal year, British pubs take in around £2.3bn in December – about one tenth of their annual income and their most profitable month by far – according to the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA).

“Pubs are at the beating heart of communities and the perfect place for people to gather and celebrate, especially after two years of restrictions stopping us from fully enjoying the festive season,” said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA.

“We know people are really struggling at the moment but, if you can, we urge you to support your local pub this festive season.”

By comparison, separate analysis by UKHospitality said December bookings for the wider hospitality sector were only slightly below 2019 levels this year.

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said bookings had fallen by 20% last year when the spread of the Omicron Covid variant prompted a harsh new wave of restrictions, rising to 50% in the last two weeks of the month.

But she said of this year: “We are cautiously optimistic. Bookings are coming in, but they tend to come in a little later these days than they did before the pandemic.

“That might partly reflect concerns about the cost of living, and the other factor we are seeing in London is the threat of rolling train strikes, which are making people more cautious.”

Related topics Trends & Reports Casual Dining

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