4 Years Since The Pandemic, Has It Affected Food Establishments?

The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on industries across the world, and the UK food industry was no exception. The government has implemented several measures to contain the spread of the virus, including lockdowns, social distancing rules and restrictions on public gatherings.

As a result, many restaurants had to temporarily close or change their business models, which significantly affected their turnover and profitability.

In this blog, we explore how the pandemic has affected UK eateries.

Closure of Food Establishments

In 2020 around 12,000 licensed venues closed permanently in the UK, many of which were eateries, according to a report by CGA and AlixPartners. This represents a 175% increase in closings compared to 2019, which was already a difficult year for the industry. The report also found that London was the most affected area, with a 13.3% decline in the number of licenced premises.

The restaurant industry had also experienced significant job losses. A report on UK Hospitality has revealed that around 660,000 jobs were lost in the UK Hospitality sector in 2020. Many companies in the food industry have been forced to lay off or make workers redundant due to the easing of trade and government restrictions.
Between 2020 to 2022, there were a reported 13 closures daily decreasing from 115,000 licenced premises to 102,000 in the UK.

Switching to Delivery and Takeaway

With the closure of diners, food establishments had to adapt to survive by shifting online. Establishing or enhancing online ordering platforms, social media presence, and delivery services has become crucial to reach customers and maintain business continuity.

According to MCA Insight, delivery sales in the UK food market grew by 48.5% in 2020, while takeaway sales grew by 9.9%.

Investing in digital marketing strategies to promote online offerings, online ordering systems, delivery logistics and contactless payment options has helped businesses stay competitive. Many restaurants and cafes have switched to delivery and takeout services to generate revenue.

Government Support 

The UK government has introduced several measures to support the hospitality industry during the pandemic. The coronavirus job retention scheme, also known as the furlough scheme, allowed companies to furlough their workers and claim 80 per cent of their wages from the government. The government has also provided grants to businesses affected by the pandemic, including restaurants. The grants were meant to cover fixed costs such as rent, utilities and insurance.

Final Thoughts

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the UK food industry. Many food establishments have had to close permanently or adapt their business models to survive. A shift to delivery and takeout services and government support have helped some businesses stay afloat in these tough times.

However, the hospitality sector still faces major challenges and will need time to fully recover. It is crucial to continue supporting food establishments during these difficult times to ensure their survival and the UK economy as a whole.


Jacques ShepherdSenior Recruitment Consultant (Residential Division Lead)

Nick Cheung ~ Lead Marketing Executive

Buckingham Futures HQ

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