Pubs and restaurants lost £200m a day in 2020 as coronavirus restrictions caused sales across the hospitality sector to more than halve.
Hospitality sales plunged from £133bn in 2019 to just under £62bn a year later, the latest UKHospitality and CGA Quarterly Tracker revealed - equivalent to £8m an hour in lost sales.
Pubs, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality venues have been hammered by tough government rules since the pandemic hit including social distancing restrictions and a ban on serving alcohol unless it is ordered with food.
"It’s in the interests of the Government to support a sector that, in normal times, contributes many billions of pounds in tax to the Treasury and employs more than 3m people"
Just last week data revealed that 6,000 licensed premises in Britain shut permanently in 2020, almost triple the number of closures for the previous 12 months.
Restrictions on trading and socialising caused a particularly damaging drop in trade in the last three months of the year, the tracker showed, with sales down by £18.7bn to £14.2bn compared with the same quarter in 2019.
Industry chiefs called the figures “devastating” and urged the Government to provide businesses with a clear exit strategy from the latest national lockdown.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, called on the Chancellor to make extending the VAT cut and business rates holiday a priority for the sector.
“Hospitality can and will bounce back and it’s in the interests of the Government to support a sector that, in normal times, contributes many billions of pounds in tax to the Treasury and employs more than 3m people,” she said.
“We need the Chancellor to step up again in his forthcoming Budget to deliver a bold, wide-ranging package of financial support that ensures as many businesses and jobs as possible are saved and the sector returns to growth.”
Phil Tate, chief executive of CGA, added: “With a vaccine rollout underway there is at least some light at the end of the tunnel, and this sector is well placed to help recharge the UK economy as 2021 goes on. But it will only be able to do so if it gets the extensive support that is now desperately needed to sustain it over the next few months.”