The hospitality boss urged consumers not to abandon the pub in dry January as the venue is working on a “debt rift” caused by COVID-19 restrictions and Christmas stagnation.
According to business leaders, the next few weeks could be a “nail in a casket” for thousands of pubs, unless customers continue to visit after the holiday season.
According to UK Hospitality, a major trade association, sales in some pubs fell by as much as 60% in December, which is usually one of the busiest months in the hospitality industry.
According to a poll by Alcohol Change UK, the charity that promotes the campaign, one in seven adults in the UK will be attending Dry January 2022.
Tom Bott, founder of North London’s brewery Signature Brew, encouraged customers to continue to support their local venues by ordering food and non-alcoholic beverages, even if they gave up.
Bot told PA news agency that the purpose of dry January is commendable, but the timing exacerbates the already late month’s impact for hospitality.
“It feels like the worst months in the pub industry have doubled because of the large number of people who don’t drink,” he said.
“For those who are doing dry January, and I can fully understand why so many, but still meet them with friends, local pubs, restaurants, music venues, everywhere. I encourage you to go. Whether you are drinking alcoholic beverages or not, you really need your support. “
He added that the loss of scaffolding, coupled with the lack of government support and unclear guidance on COVID hospitality rules in the coming months, exacerbated the problem.
Alcohol Change UK said the pub should focus on making non-drinkers feel “included” by offering high quality alcohol-free options behind the bar.
“If you think customers won’t come when they’re drinking for a month, you need to question why,” said Lucy Holmes, director of policy research at charity.
“Why can you take people out the door with a really tasty alcohol-free beer? So why not make a virtue?”
Young’s CEO Patrick Dardis said the venue has already promised to provide a “welcome” environment for non-drinkers during dry January and more broadly.
Those who refrain from drinking can still order food and non-alcoholic beverages and enjoy a friendly atmosphere.
Dardis said large chains like himself could survive the slowdown in January, but expressed “honest concerns” to small businesses.
“I see thousands of businesses for whom this is [period] Probably the last nail in the casket. January and February will be cruel to thousands of companies across the country, “said Dardis.
Tony Sophoshoclides, director of strategy at UK Hospitality, said the company tried to reserve cash reserves for next month, but was “hit” by the stagnation period.
“It was very disappointing that we couldn’t capitalize in December because we knew that the role of Dry January wasn’t new and it would come,” he said.
“I want to go out and support the local pubs, because if you want to keep them going, there are so many people on the edge of the cliff right now.
“The debt rift that most of them face will take a long time to get out.”