Covid cafe, hospitality

Local lockdown loses Bolton’s restaurants 33% in a week

Restaurants, bars and cafes in Bolton saw their sales slashed by a third in the first week of the local lockdown imposed on the town on 7 September.

Hospitality outlets that were ordered to offer only takeaway and delivery services and to close completely at 10pm saw an immediate drop compared to other areas of Lancashire, according to sales figures compiled by food wholesalers.

Initial data for the week ending 20 September show the decline continued, with erratic ordering patterns suggesting food outlets are struggling to anticipate consumer demand.

Despite the restrictions – the first of their kind to be introduced in the UK – Bolton’s Covid infection rate increased to more than 200 cases per 100,000 people after two weeks in local lockdown, meaning it remains the most-affected town in the country.

James Bielby of FWD, which represents food distributors, said the dramatic decline in sales meant that without extra financial support for wholesalers, such as business rates relief, food supply to vital public services and care homes was being put at risk by the 10pm curfew introduced across England this week.

“For Covid-prepared restaurants and pubs, and the wholesalers who supply them, losing a third of turnover in a week is close to fatal,” said Bielby.

“Wholesalers cannot sustain such levels of trade and survive, which means food supply to critical public sector infrastructure such as schools, care homes and hospitals will be cut off without financial support.

“Imposing punitive restrictions on trade without warning also stalls tonnes of food in the supply chain which may then go to waste.

If the government doesn’t offer wholesalers direct financial aid, there’s a real chance that they won’t be there to revive the local economy and supply vital public services when the lockdown ends.”

Bielby Bolton coronavirus covid-19 FWD hospitality James Bielby lockdown wholesale