Delay to ‘Freedom Day’ in UK will ‘decimate’ night time economyBy Patrick Schmitt
An expected delay to the proposed easing of coronavirus restrictions in the UK will “decimate” the night time economy, says an association representing the sector.
According to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), a delay to ‘Freedom Day’ on 21 June will see as many as 1 in 4 businesses in the UK close within weeks.
It also said that while a flash poll of its members had suggested that 25% of nightclubs and bars will not survive longer than one month without further Government support, as many as 50% would close for good should the delay to removing Covid-related restrictions on trade last as much as two months.
“Any delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in workforce leaving the sector, and customers who are starved of social engagement, attending illegal unregulated events in place of businesses that are well operated, licensed and regulated,” said NTIA CEO, Michael Kill.
A flash survey of 300 NTE businesses revealed the following:
- 1 in 4 businesses will not survive longer than one month without further Government support and 50% no longer than two months.
- 54% of businesses have spent over £15,000 in preparation for reopening on 21 June already and 17.8% have spent over £40K.
- 1 in 5 businesses estimate they will lose over £40,000 per week in revenue whilst restricted from trading or closed due to the delay in the 21 June easing of lockdown.
- 58% of businesses estimate they will lose over £10,000 per week in revenue whilst restricted from trading or closed due to the delay in the easing of lockdown on 21 June.
- 33% of businesses estimate they will lose over 30% of their workforce due to the delay in the easing of lockdown on 21 June.
Kill commented, “Night time economy businesses have waited patiently for their opportunity to open for over 15 months, many have not survived, some are on a financial cliff edge, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, a huge pool of talent has been swept away and others have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship.”
Continuing, he said, “We should not underestimate the importance of the 21 June to these businesses, employees, entertainers and freelancers, a day when they should be given back there opportunity to trade, regain their livelihoods, careers, social well being and the day that the Government is due to give culture back to the UK.”
He added, “Many of these businesses and individuals have adapted, overcome and survived for an exceptional length of time with the bare bones of support, and have arrived at this opportunity to find that it could be ripped away from them.”
The association pointed out that as many as 95% of businesses have already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen next Monday, from ordering stock, calling in staff, selling tickets, booking entertainment and investing in marketing and promotion materials.
“These businesses are overburdened with debt, so any decision to delay will make them heavily reliant on the Government to extend financial support and relief, including additional restriction grants, exclusion from furlough contributions, extension of loan repayment holiday for CBILS/BBS as well as business rates and VAT relief for the next 12 months, not forgetting the £2.6 Billion in commercial rent debt left unresolved,” said Kill.
He also said, “The Government must understand the human impact of this decision, not only considering the public health challenges of the virus but also the people within our sector who are suffering terribly and the real health risks that this represents, given the overwhelming confidence in the vaccination rollout, and the ability for the sector to deliver Covid safe environments.”