OVER 85% of Scottish hospitality operators will need government support to survive the winter, according to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA).
The most recent edition of the trade group’s survey of business owners and operators found rising costs, staffing and COVID-related debt remained some of the biggest challenges facing the industry in the coming months, with 52% of respondents stating their current trading level is “significantly less” than before the pandemic.
When asked for the top three challenges faced by hospitality businesses, 60% of respondents cited energy costs, with 55% saying staffing and 40% citing customer demand.
Almost half of respondents said that they would either close one or two days a week during the winter (45% of respondents) or close altogether over the winter season (10% of respondents).
Over half of respondents – 55% – said they had significant post-COVID debt, with 35% saying their debt translated to between 10% and 25% of their turnover, 15% stating their COVID debt accounted for between 25% and 50% of their turnover and 5% of respondents saying their COVID debt accounted for more than 50% of their turnover.
On energy costs, 21% of respondents said their bills will be increasing by between 10% and 100%, with 16% expecting an increase of over 100%, 21% expecting increases of over 250% and 28% of respondents expecting their bills to increase by over 500%.
In total, more than 600 businesses responded to the survey.
SLTA managing director, Colin Wilkinson, said the survey reinforced the urgency of government support for the sector.
“Our pubs and bars have worked very hard post-COVID and Brexit to showcase Scotland’s hospitality industry, but with a tsunami of rising costs and low consumer confidence we urgently call on local and national governments to help us through the winter,” said Wilkinson.
“We must protect the jobs that outlets provide directly and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food-producing sectors.”