The shortage seems to be most acute in London and the South-East.
Lorenzo Manconi, chief executive of Romet Group, a chain of nine restaurants and pubs in London and Essex, told The Economist that Brexit is part of the problem. Many of the European workers whom he put on furlough during the pandemic are now heading home. He has replaced them with Britons, and 70% of his staff have no experience. “They will need training and it will cost us extra and we aren’t sure if they are going to stay with us long term,” he says. Job postings for pub and restaurant positions on Indeed, a recruitment website, were up by 82% in the four weeks to May 7th, and are now 4% above their pre-pandemic level.
Another problem for recruitment has been that the sector has been closed for so long that a number of the employees have moved on to other jobs in sectors such as retail or logistics. In addition, some staff who might have moved into hospitality from other badly hit industries or firms are being left on furlough so there is no need to move jobs. Some firms are also quite likely to be keeping people on furlough until they can be brought back and why would you move from being paid to watch daytime TV to work in a hot kitchen! Those trained staff that are coming back are being given pay rises to retain them and demand for staff has been boosted by the social-distancing rule that pubs must serve customers at tables.
Some larger firms are considering raising pay but enforced closures have drained the reserves of many of their smaller peers.
In the London area, many pubs have put up their prices whether this is to try and recoup lost trade or a way to ensure that they can pay their staff better to retain them remains to be seen.
Why are there so many shut pubs and restaurants?
The simple answer is really 2-fold; Staff shortages and people not going back to the office. Many pubs and restaurants in London are just not seeing enough footfall and after-work get togethers to be sustainable. If there is any chance a business doesn’t have enough staff and so service is poor why take the risk on your brand? Some people have actually said after grants etc. they are better off closed!