Covid 19 – Vacancies rising, but many hospitality workers still on furlough

Date : 07 June 2021

The re-opening of foodservice appears to have been welcomed by diners.

According to data from booking app Open Table, over 80% of participating UK restaurants are now taking bookings, with these operating at capacity.

Capacity may be lower than it was pre-Covid, however, with fewer diners accommodated and slower throughput, due to the need for extra cleaning between sittings.

Data on furlough payments shows that more than 900,000 people in UK foodservice and accommodation roles remained on furlough at the end of April. This compares with around 2,387,000 employed in Mar 2020, just before the Covid outbreak.

(In England, outdoor foodservice re-opened on 12th April and indoor foodservice on 17th May, with other countries adopting different timings).

Paradoxically, however, there is evidence that demand for labour in foodservice is rising – according to data from job search website Adzuna, the need for foodservice staff is now back at pre-Covid levels.

Around 83% of UK foodservice and accommodation businesses in the UK are currently trading, with 15% “paused” and 2% permanently closed. Of the businesses on “pause” about half expect to re-start in the near future. 

Of foodservice and accommodation businesses that are trading or on “pause”, 13% report no cash reserves at all, suggesting that they would not survive a new lockdown without further financial support from government.

Clearly, even in a “best case” scenario, many foodservice businesses in the UK face a long journey back to stability following the Covid outbreak.

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