Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Scotland’s call to government as hospitality faces ‘continued barrage of challenges’

Published:  03 October, 2023

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) is pleading for more support to help protect the hospitality sector, as venues report the crippling impact of staff vacancies and ‘a continued wave of cost increases’.

Today (3 October), the SLTA announced the results of its summer survey, which covers the full spectrum of hospitality business including restaurants, bars and hotels, and looks at the impact of what it calls a ‘sustained wave’ of macro and micro economic challenges.

The findings show that staff recruitment is still a major headache for venues: 72% of respondents are struggling to fill vacancies, while 68% of outlets under-staffed.

Meanwhile, 58% of outlets are trading below pre-Covid levels, while also facing an onslaught of rising costs in supplier costs and wage inflation.

Although there is a slight sign that utility costs are stabilising, a total of 67% of outlets expect further economic decline and a concerning 9% of outlets are planning to close or are considering other options.

Paul Waterson, SLTA media spokesman, said: “Our sector plays a critical role in Scotland’s food and drink strategy and our survey highlights huge challenges in recruiting skilled staff. Some 68% of our respondents are operating with staff vacancies and this has a domino impact on opening hours, the economic viability of our businesses and our role as a key part of Scotland’s tourism industry.

“We have still not recovered from lockdown and many of our respondents are still trading below pre-Covid levels with two-thirds expecting the economy to decline in the next 18 months. In addition, 77% of members are seeing continued increases in utility charges and 95% see supplier costs rising.”

Waterson also drew attention to the impact of consecutive years of challenges, with those challenges now having a significant effect on operators. In previous years, the survey responses showed that it would not be economically viable for many outlets to remain open. Now, “we are seeing this come to fruition with a worrying 9% of outlets either planning to close or considering options.

“Scotland’s pubs and bars face a continued barrage of economic challenges and we call on the UK and Scottish governments to assist us in dealing with them,” he concluded.