Over 85% of Scottish bars require 'government support' or face closure

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association has said that nine in 10 establishments will need government support this winter.

Over 85% of Scottish bars require ‘government support’ or face closure iStock

A hospitality group has said that more than 85% of Scotland’s pubs and bars will need government support to survive this upcoming winter.

The (SLTA) Scottish Licensed Trade Association released a survey on Wednesday which highlighted a “tide of unprecedented challenges” that the hospitality industry faces as the cost of living crisis continues to escalate.

The survey, which represents over 600 bars and 10% of Scotland’s trade operators, revealed that 87% of outlets will require government support to remain in operation.

Reasons behind this include, but are not limited to, Covid debt, Brexit, rising costs, staff shortages and enormous increases to energy costs.

Just under half of venues (45%) are expected to reduce opening hours, which will see huge impacts on tourism and employment.

Managing director of the SLTA, Colin Wilkinson, has said that businesses face a “tsunami” of rising costs this winter.

“Our survey is based upon quantitative research from over 600 outlets covering the length and breadth of the country and is supported by major food and drink chains and independent pubs, bars and hotels in Scotland’s hospitality sector”, he said.

“Many of our respondents are still carrying significant Covid debt and are dealing with the challenges of Brexit, but we are now facing even bigger hurdles with rising costs, staff shortages and enormous increases to energy costs – with one in four anticipating an increase in energy costs of over 500%, despite the Chancellor’s announcement on capping wholesale energy prices.

“For many outlets it won’t be economically viable to remain open and one in 10 of our respondents plan to close during the winter months and nearly one in two expect to reduce opening hours. Our sector is a crucial part of the tourism industry and reduced opening hours will have a knock-on impact for Scotland’s wider food and drink sector, and for employment within 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.

“We must protect the jobs that outlets provide directly and the associated jobs in the wholesaling, brewing/distilling and food-producing sectors.”

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