On Tuesday 17 November, MPs sitting on the business, energy, and industrial strategy (BEIS) select committee heard evidence about the disruption and economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic that has been experienced by retailers, gyms and hospitality firms forced to close their doors for the second time this year, reports Yahoo! Finance.

Kate Nicholls, the head of UKHospitality, told the BEIS committee that the industry, which includes pubs, hotels, and restaurants, had not managed to break even after the first lockdown and before the restrictions were tightened again in September.

She explained that despite the continued government support and the extension to the furlough scheme, the sector had lost 660,000 jobs, and businesses were in a ‘far less resilient state’ as winter approaches.

She said that the tighter measures had ‘knocked holes’ in hospitality firms’ revenues, with income down 66 per cent, according to UKHospitality figures. She added that 40 per cent of firms’ annual income is earned between Halloween and New Year’s Eve.

Ralph Findlay, CEO of British brewery, pub and hotel operator Marston’s, told MPs that the pubs sector had lost confidence in the government due to a lack of engagement and poor communication as it headed towards its busiest time of the year.

He said that he still did not know yet if he would be permitted to reopen the business on 2 December, when the second national lockdown is due to end. “I don't know what restrictions at this point I'm going to be working to,” he said.

“I don't know how many people, out of the 10,000 I've got on furlough, that I can bring back. I don't know what discussions I need to have with my supply teams and logistics teams about getting food and beer into our pubs.”

The head of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson, said store sales were set to be £2 billion down per week during the lockdown, and warned over further job losses with the closure of non-essential retail during the second lockdown, saying one company had just informed her that 4,000 jobs were at risk without a solid festive season.

“The most important thing at this point is that we have real clarity that re-opening will occur as planned because I think without it the knock-on effects for many retail businesses will be severe,” she said.

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said that smaller retail, hospitality, and some supply chains have not had the same level of support as frontline retailers and pubs, and that small firms have burnt through finances in trying to survive, including taking on large amounts of debt that would unlikely be able to be repaid in the short term.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said a decision would be made at the end of the month on England’s lockdown but warned returning to regional restrictions would depend on data on the virus’ spread.

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