Third lockdown could see thousands of shops, gyms and hotels close their doors for good
Oxford Street: Crowds pack into shops ahead of Tier 4 restrictions
Experts fear more than 10,000 stores and up to 9,000 hotels and 1,000 gyms will be lost after being starved of income by Britain shutting down until the end of March, a timeframe which Boris Johnson warned of last week. However, when the country reopens for business after the vaccine rollout, they predict consumer confidence will quickly recover with people having money to spend at shops and hotels keen to fill suites with staycationers, especially in cities like London.
Sally Beck, general manager of the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, said: “Hospitality is on its knees and if you are not in the position we are in then I think businesses are going to close and they are not going to be able to reopen.
“The landscape for bars, restaurants and hotels is going to look very different by the time we get to March or April because businesses just can’t sustain this.”
The Royal Lancaster, along with sister hotels The Landmark and K West, is privately owned by Thai hotelier Khun Jatuporn Sihanatkathakul. Ms Beck said: “We are lucky as we are privately owned and our owners aren’t over extended, so they are supporting us.
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“I want to stay open because I do believe this is the rocky road of recovery and I hate it, as you can’t quite see where it’s going, but I believe you need to be on it rather than in a layby.”
She added: “I would not be surprised if we lose 20 percent of hotels.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic started there were about 45,000 hotels in the UK.
Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, fears up to 15 percent of stores on high streets nationwide could be lost. But he also believes consumer confidence and spending will soar after the vaccine rollout.
He said: “It’s hellishly frustrating to now be in lockdown again. To get through the next three months, it’s hard to imagine how businesses will survive this.”
Sophie Lawler, CEO of Total Fitness, a chain of health clubs in England and Wales, said the latest lockdown has come at the worst time for her industry, as gyms rely on new year subscriptions to provide annual income.
“Never before has our level of inactivity and obesity been exposed to us in this way as a real problem, and yet there still seems to be a lack of recognition of the importance of our sector,” she said.
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