Landlords warn pub opening hours under threat due to staffing crisis


SCOTLAND’S pubs are having to curtail their opening hours as a staffing crisis grips the sector.

The (SLTA) Scottish Licensed Trade Association has revealed that seven in ten bars are struggling to fill vacancies and has called on the UK and Scottish governments to help the sector overcome ‘a continued barrage of economic challenges’.

The trade group also said that its snapshot summer survey of venues shows that more than half of Scotland’s bars have yet to fully recover from the CV19 lockdowns which pushed many in the sector close to bankruptcy.

Paul Waterson, SLTA media spokesperson, 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 58% 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.”

The survey found: 

  • Staff recruitment – 72% of respondents are struggling to fill vacancies, with 68% of outlets under-staffed
  • Challenging macro-economic environment
  • 58% of outlets are trading below pre-Covid levels
  • An onslaught of rising costs in supplier costs and wage inflation, although there is a slight sign that utility costs are stabilising
  • 67% of outlets expect further economic decline
  • A concerning 9% of outlets are planning to close or are considering options

Mr Waterson added: “In previous surveys we warned that it wouldn’t be economically viable for many outlets to remain open, and we are now 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 these challenges.”

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