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66% of hospitality sector saw summer trade fall, says British Chamber of Commerce

Two thirds (66%) of the UK’s hospitality sector saw summer trade decrease during Q3 despite the chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, according to the BCC’s quarterly economic survey published yesterday (1 October).

The survey reported that overall business conditions remained “weak” in the third quarter.

Drawing data from 6,410 UK firms, the British Chamber of Commerce revealed that “key indicators” have improved from Q2, but named hospitality an example of industries “faring worst” in the slow recovery.

BCC said that B2C firms, “particularly those from the hospitality and catering sectors”, saw the weakest performance, with 66% reporting decreases in sales and bookings in the last three months compared with a lower 46% overall.

Crucially, BCC added that most of the survey fieldwork took place before Boris Johnson’s announcement of a “second spike” of Covid-19 in the UK on 18 September.

The subsequent restrictions and their impact on hospitality have already faced major outcry from sector leaders this week.

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, said: “Our latest survey indicates that underlying economic conditions remained exceptionally weak in the third quarter.

“The manufacturing sector recorded the strongest improvements in the quarter, while consumer-focused services firms, where social distancing restricts activity, saw more limited gains. The persistent weakness in cash flow is concerning as it leaves firms more vulnerable to external shocks, including further restrictions.”

Director general of the BCC, Dr Adam Marshall, added: “It is time to be direct. The economy will need more support, over and above the Chancellor’s welcome recent efforts. Ministers must stand ready to provide that support, and to strengthen measures to underpin business cash flow and jobs.

“The disappointing Test and Trace system must be improved to ensure as many businesses as possible can function through the winter and beyond. A Brexit deal must be reached to avoid yet more disruption.”

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