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Restaurant Job Losses Rose by 163 Percent in 2020, And That’s Just One Report

A Centre for Retail Research survey paints a bleak, incomplete picture largely focussed on chain closures

Pizza Express restaurant windows in London, with the brand logo prominently visible
Casual dining closures, like those at Pizza Express, are a focus of the Centre for Retail Research’s report
Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

Almost 30,000 restaurant job losses are in this report, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused many more

A new report from the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) shows that restaurant job losses rose by 163 percent in 2020, with almost 30,000 reported to the CRR across the restaurant sector. Closures also increased by 76 percent, up from 922 to 1,621, according to the Guardian.

The CRR chose to highlight casual dining closures — like those at Pizza Express, Byron Burger, Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia, and Frankie and Benny’s. While the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on retail footfall contributed significantly to these losses, it wasn’t the root cause. Overexpansion funded by private equity debt inflated these groups into unstable bubbles that just needed a pin — in this case, a major downturn in business caused by a pandemic — to burst them. These are the casual dining chains that have shed restaurants like snakes shed skin during the crisis, able to bounce around debt and reemerge in some form, while independent businesses have to wait until their last hopes are extinguished to close for good.

This focus on reported jobs also tells another story — that many thousands more closures and jobs will have gone unreported. 297,000 jobs were lost in accommodation and food services, which includes hospitality, between February and November, according to the Office of National Statistics, which draws its data from payrolls. This may be a truer picture of the scale of loss, but it is currently set to get worse. Without some kind of rent solution, the advent of a vaccine rollout will be too late for restaurants, and with tier four / tier five / look, it’s a lockdown set to last into March, restaurants are badly in need of proportionate financial support for those months. Without it, these bleak figures will only get bleaker. Happy new year! [Guardian]

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