Pubs and restaurants face 'tidal wave of economic challenges'

Survey found takings were down over Christmas as bills soar and staffing issues continue.

Scotland’s pubs and restaurants face “a tidal wave of economic challenges”, the sector has warned as it called for new financial support.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) surveyed members after the normally lucrative Christmas and new year period.

However, after disappointing takings, more than three-quarters of eateries, hotels and pubs said they might not survive the year without government backing.

They described December as difficult, with half of all premises making less money than they did during the last ‘normal’ pre-pandemic festive period.

And the SLTA warned that energy and other bills were continuing to soar, forcing some businesses to restrict their opening hours. Many members also reported post-Brexit staffing issues.

SLTA managing director Colin Wilkinson said: “We previously warned that it wouldn’t be economically viable for many outlets to remain open.

“We are now seeing this come to fruition with a knock-on impact on tourism and Scotland’s wider food and drink sector, including the supply chain.”

He added: “Our survey is based upon quantitative research from outlets covering the length and breadth of the country.

“It is supported by major food and drink chains and independent pubs, bars and hotels in Scotland’s hospitality sector.”

The Scottish Government said it had introduced measures to help struggling businesses in the hospitality sector.

Ivan McKee, minister for business, said: “We’ve got the lowest poundage rate on rates of anywhere in the UK.

“We’ve got the most generous small business bonus scheme rates relief for small businesses of anywhere in the UK.

“We’ve froze that poundage rate this year, which was the main ask of 18 separate business organisations, thereby saving businesses more than £300m this year, so we’re doing what we can.”

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