Government support will be vital to pubs’ survival after re-opening, according to a survey of licensees by the Norwich and District branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
Finance and staff pay is clearly a big issue. Just over half of respondents reported a deferral, reduction, or cancellation of rent during this period, and a proportion who reported no reductions included non-rent-payers.
More than 80% have invested personal funds to support them through this period, with one in five reporting an increase in loans. One in ten reported raising funds innovatively, for example using a crowdfunding scheme.
The vast majority — nearly 90% — of respondents reported that ongoing government support would be extremely important to their pub’s survival.
The survey also asked what measures would be most popular for pubs? The most popular, for ease of implementation, would be a one-metre distance between tables, however other respondents reported this to be impossible or difficult to operate, and more than 60% reported this to have a likely large negative effect on turnover.
Only just over 15% claimed a two-metre distance would be easy to implement, with more than 37% claiming this to be impossible. A similar response was given to proposed screens or partitions between tables.
A cover or minimum charge proved unpopular or impossible to operate, and pre-booked tables or a seated table service also proved unpopular, due to its likely effect on income. Of precautions such as temperature checks, bar screens, or imposing time/drink limits, the screen option was most popular.
More than 74% reported that reasonable restrictions would be likely to have 50% or more of an impact on their turnover figures.
One mentioned: “We all need to ensure people have confidence in returning to pubs, so all publicans should act responsibly and show the public they are doing what they can to keep safe.”
This is a view shared by other publicans; along with the view that pubs need publicity of any measures, to raise consumer confidence.
Ian Stamp, chair of Norwich CAMRA, said: “Publicans are being realistic about measures for re-opening, with many able to use or access outdoor areas to increase capacity whilst allowing distancing measures.
“However, each pub is individual, with different challenges, so it is difficult to find a shared view. However, we hope these results have given better insight into the views of those at the sharp end of the re-opening debate.”
Positively, the majority of those who responded are offering take-out services, with more than 62% offering take-out drinks and over 33% offering food, with some making deliveries too.
However, Ian explained that this may be misleading as those offering a service currently are also more likely to have responded, though he notes many pubs locally have made this positive move.
He added that it was encouraging that even more wish to operate take-out food services in the future, though fewer anticipate continuing with their beer take-out service after re-opening.