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Second ‘Lost Christmas’ for UK hospitality as Omicron hits sales

This has been the second ‘Lost Christmas’ for UK hospitality as Omicron hits sales. Spread of variant and government guidance to work from home led to painful losses by year end.

The hospitality business missed out on £3bn in sales over the festive period as the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant kept the public at home, resulting in a second “Lost Christmas” for financially embattled proprietors like Hamilton Hall.

Sales slumped over 60% over the Christmas and Boxing Day period and 100% on the New Year’s Eve period, compared to previous years when the Festive Season financially helps us stay afloat through until Easter - when the season supposedly begins for the summer - and with this huge shortfall in income, like all hospitality venues, we struggle financially. As I sit here typing this for you - I am sat in a freezing cold office with the heating off during the day as gas prices have risen to such a degree that we cannot afford it on during the day although home and working - and it is no fun having a drip hanging from my nose and my feet are so cold it aches half way up to my knees while in 4 layers on the top including 2 heavy sweat shirts with hoods and STILL I am cold.

Millions of business venues are in the same position and many will not survive as they have rent and mortgages as well. Naturally we have the heating on when guests are here and keep it toasty warm but when alone, we have to economise where we can - it's survive or sink time for many.

The Festive Season - Christmas and New Year - usually brings in as much as 3 months worth of trading income and this loss is crippling for an industry already heavily struggling - and this does not help the general UK wide economy either as money trickled down to suppliers, staff and local shops. Take that away and everyone suffers.

The summer months of 2020 - after we were allowed to re open, was quite good with a fairly busy summer period that helped pick up the losses of the previous year when lockdowns forces us to loose around 8 months of business - and with that being 2/3rds of the year - many - MANY venues cannot afford to stay open and hundreds closed for good, mainly those with high rents or mortgages to pay. On Friday, the Office for National Statistics said that 40% of all hospitality businesses say they have less than three months of cash reserves, including 11% with none at all. Also, 17% of these hospitality firms have low or no confidence of surviving the next three months, the gloomiest outlook across the economy and anyone who wants to say anything smart or snippy I can guarantee they have - like most of you - never run their own business and have absolutely no idea about the costs involved, the licenses needed, the constant financial costs even when closed and if you don't know what you are talking about - please keep it zipped and don't make a fool of yourself and don't piss off venue owners who put so much heart and soul into what they offer and don't need ignorance in return - appreciation and value goes a long long way.

f you want your local gay venues to remain open after this is all over - USE THEM - spend money in them, help them survive as once closed, and I cannot stipulate this more strongly - once gay venues close THEY WILL NEVER RE OPEN AND THE GAY SCENE LOOSES.

For more than 50 years of my personal experience, Bournemouth had between 4 - 8 gay hotels at any one time, depending on the decade and yet today - Hamilton Hall is the only gay hotel left. All the bars have gone bar 2 - and there is no late night night club any more as all 3 eventually closed.

The gay scene was closing down long before Covid because of the internet as when did you last go cruising your local gay bar looking for a shag for the evening ... and when did you last go on grinder or any one of the plethora of internet dating sites for gay men and pick someone to shag with ??? Times are changing and if we are not careful the LGBT scene will blend in with the straight world ( which is what we have been asking for decades ) but will vanish if we are not careful and no one will even know a thing about gay history and culture.

John Bellamy ------------------------------


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