Bars and restaurants across Scotland face “dark days” as costs rise ahead of Christmas, a nightclub boss has warned.
Trade bodies said the nightlife and hospitality sector was already seeing the effects of the cost of living crisis amid soaring supply chain costs and energy bills rocketing by up to 400%.
Cathouse and Garage owner Donald MacLeod, who also heads up the Night Times Industries Association (NTIA), is predicting a huge downturn in trade after the Christmas period.
He told STV News: “There has been a massive impact on people’s disposable income. Energy, rent and mortgages will be going through the roof. We are seeing the signs.
“Last year, the government pulled the rug from under us and closed us down over the pandemic. This year, it’s different. People don’t have money in their pockets to go out.”
Hospitality chiefs have warned venues face closure as spiralling costs and fewer Christmas bookings threaten bars, hotels and restaurants.
The number of bookings for festive fun is believed to be lower than normal for this time of year, as economic uncertainty forces people to cut back on spending.
Over half of businesses are experiencing a 30% increase in operating costs compared with pre-pandemic levels, according to an NTIA study carried out in June.
Meanwhile, a new Ipsos survey for the Evening Standard also found that 57% of people planned to spend less this Christmas – with just under half saying they’ll cut back on festivities and nights out.
Mr MacLeod said the Garage and Cathouse were performing relatively well due to having a younger student demographic with sold-out club nights planned over Halloween.
But he said other bars and clubs under the trades body were reporting fewer customers, particularly during the week.
He said: “All manners of trades are linked; gigs, taxis, bars, restaurants, hotels. When people stops coming, that impacts all of us.
“It’s a bit early as there are no figures, but I suspect there will be a downward spiral without some positive good news.
“We might have a a big blast this Christmas – people will still go to the panto, but will they go to the hotel or get a meal beforehand?”
He added: “After Christmas will be a telling time. Once bad weather really kicks in and resources have been stretched. I’m fearful of the dark nights and days ahead in the hospitality sector – especially in the New Year.”