Sales return but staff and cost struggles continue

HOSPITALITY industry sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels, but the industry continues to struggle with staff shortages and soaring costs.

A new report from research company CGA and trade group UK Hospitality, titled Future Shock – Leaving COVID behind – found that one in seven industry jobs are now unfilled, with nearly half of UK hospitality businesses having reduced trading hours – and a third having to close at least one day a week.

Over three quarters of businesses – 77% – have increased pay as they try to attract and retain staff, resulting in an average increase of 11% across the sector.

At the same time employment costs have risen, 93% of operators have reported increased energy costs and 83% said they were concerned about foodservice price rises.

“The sector has proved its value to consumers post-pandemic, with sales back to 2019 levels, but the labour shortage, inflationary cost pressures and dropping consumer confidence make it extremely difficult for any business to achieve real-terms year-on-year growth at the moment and there is little prospect of a respite on the horizon,” said UK Hospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls.

“Operators will continue to work hard and creatively to meet these challenges and with positive action from government, such as root and branch reform of business rates, a system that disproportionally taxes hospitality, the sector will be able to drive investment in local economies, create jobs and play a full part in the UK’s economic recovery.”