Last week Fourth and Wireless Social held an insights driven webinar where we explored how the industry is performing in the current climate.The data from Fourth has been aggregated from analysis of over 700 companies across the restaurant, pub and bar, and QSR sectors; the Wireless Social relies comes from its footfall tracker monitoring how busy towns and cities are across the nation, and guest behavior.
The data revealed that August began to show encouraging signs of recovery across the industry, largely driven by the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme, the warm weather, and the fact that people began to feel more comfortable and confident to start venturing out again. Here are the key measures where these signs of recovery were noted:
1. Hours Scheduled
Fourth’s data revealed that there was a steady increase in the number of hours scheduled across the industry over recent months, with August generating a significant spike. The hours worked in August (20.1m hours) increased by 44% from July 2020 (12.9m hours) and by 119% compared to June 2020 (5.1m hours).
Looking at a year-on-year comparison of the data, August was only down 41% on 2019 levels (20.1m vs 34.2m hours). This is a major improvement on July, which was down by 63% (12.9m vs 35m hours), and June which was down by 85% (5.1m vs 33.1m).
2. Hours Worked Per Employee
The average number of hours worked per employee remained the same during August, compared to the previous year, despite the fact that the average number of people scheduled fell from 16 to 10 – a drop of 40%. This indicates that businesses have reacted to the reduced capacity within venues and also sought to introduce productivity measures to improve efficiency.
3. Staff Headcount
Echoing the reduction in hours worked across the sector compared to pre-lockdown levels, the data reveals that the hospitality workforce significantly decreased as a direct result of COVID-19. The total staff headcount recorded in August 2020 across the data-range was down by 15%, compared to August 2019. The QSR sector had the smallest decrease in headcount, with figures in August 2020 down by 12% on 2019, whereas pubs, restaurants and hotels experienced a 16% decrease.
4. Starters and Leavers
The data also highlights the impact of the Government’s furlough scheme, with the industry experiencing a 53% reduction in those leaving the industry from March to July 2020 as they were placed on furlough. However, when analysing a year-on-year comparison of starters and leavers between January and February 2020 and March to July 2020, the figures increase from 1:1 to 3:1.
Despite being markedly lower than pre-lockdown levels (February 2020), footfall in August, across a number of towns and cities, was the highest it has been since March. Visitor traffic in Liverpool on Sunday 30th August (-13% on pre-lockdown levels) had risen by 25% compared to the previous week, and by 46% compared to the re-opening of the sector on 4th July. Similarly, Cardiff (-23%) beat its June (-89% on 6th June) and July (-80% on 4th July) figures; as well as Birmingham (-25%); Bristol (-25%); Edinburgh (-37%); and Manchester (-42%).
In London, footfall climbed steadily throughout August, with figures for Sunday 30th August (-38%) showing an increase of 17% compared to 4th July (-55%). However, much of the increased traffic was driven by the ‘London villages’ (Richmond, Wimbledon etc), where Bank Holiday footfall (-23%) had increased by 36% versus 4th July, compared to the City, Soho and Canary Wharf, where traffic was roughly 65% lower than pre-lockdown averages.
The growth witnessed throughout August is incredibly positive for the industry, with a vast number of workers returning from furlough, but we are now approaching the traditionally challenging autumn period. As many operators look to introduce new marketing measures to continue the momentum they experienced from the EOTHO scheme, it’s crucial that they are prepared for the further challenges that lie ahead.
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