Restaurants reopen but another cliff edge looms.
Diners can venture back into restaurants today but with almost 10% closed permanently since the pandemic began, there are gaping holes in our high streets.
And with the moratorium on commercial evictions scheduled to end on June 30, some of the restaurants that have survived this long could also be on a cliff-edge.
22 restaurants per day closed their doors between March 2020 and April 2021, according to a new report by management consultants and business growth experts CGA and AlixPartners. The report concluded there are 9.7% fewer restaurants in the UK today than at the start of the pandemic.
In previous years (2019 and 2018) the number the number of restaurants dropped by 2.8% and 2% respectively.
Basil Fansa, founder of London’s shop-local club The Local Buyers Club and a former government economist, said: “A lot of restaurants which have been unable to trade for the past year have built up large debts. Those which have kept up to date with rent payments will have depleted reserves and, with eviction on the cards from the end of June for those with rent arrears, sadly we might see many more restaurants go under this summer.
“Not only do many restaurants now have hefty debts to repay, but capacity restrictions due to Covid-19 will make turning a healthy profit much more challenging. We are urging landlords to work together with small businesses to share the load.
“And we’re urging the public to eat out and order takeaways direct from independent restaurants rather than through delivery apps which charge businesses up to 35% in commission. If we want to preserve the character of our high streets, we need a concerted effort to support small restaurants.”
When lockdown hit the Local Buyers Club team launched My Virtual Neighbourhood – a London-wide website listing neighbourhood by neighbourhood how independent businesses are continuing to serve their communities.
While restaurant closures in previous years tended to be in crowded sectors such as burger bars, the losses since the pandemic have been of businesses which should have had a promising future.
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