Now is the time to prepare for a spring boost to hospitality

The pandemic has taken its toll on the high street. It’s estimated that 10,000 licensed premises – including pubs, clubs and restaurants – closed their doors for good in 2020 thanks to lockdowns, restrictions and struggling trade, with independent businesses being hardest hit. The loss of Christmas trade thanks to lockdown at the end of 2020 prompted a difficult start to 2021 for the sector, and last year the roller coaster continued, with fluctuating restrictions, the pingdemic and the end of the furlough scheme all putting pressure on hospitality businesses.

The latest statistics from the ONS estimate that consumer spending on hospitality remains at 70 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. And with Omnicron’s arrival just in time for Christmas 2021, bringing with it another lean festive period for pubs and restaurants, the urgent need for a return to easier trading conditions is just as great as we look forward to spring 2022.

There have been lessons learned along the way, including the need to build resilience into hospitality businesses to allow them to continue trading as successive public health measures have been introduced and people’s habits have changed. We can identify two key themes here: the use of technology to enable contactless ordering and table service, and the use of vehicle safety barriers to enable outdoor seating areas.

As a nation, we have been reluctant to adapt to al fresco dining and drinking in the past. Beer gardens are traditionally the preserve of smokers and the all-to-rare balmy summer evenings when a beer in the sunshine is de rigeur. Sitting outdoors at hospitality venues has been viewed as a warm weather activity, despite the popularity of outdoor seating in much colder climates than ours all year round.

With the restrictions we’ve experienced and the nervousness about crowded indoor spaces that persists for many, however, there is now a much more accepting attitude towards outdoor seating at bars and restaurants. And with that acceptance from consumers, there is an opportunity for local authorities to support hospitality businesses by pedestrianizing to enable additional covers and capacity outdoors.

But pedestrianization needs to be put in place safely and in a professional manner that enables people to see clearly where there is pedestrian-only access and where vehicles are allowed. Pedestrianization strategies also need to include consideration of emergency vehicle access to new pedestrian-only zones and practical requirements for hospitality businesses, such as deliveries.

At Crowdguard, we have already worked with several local authorities to help them implement pedestrianization projects, specifically to support hospitality businesses. These locations have been used to provide safe outdoor seating areas that offer additional capacity and a location where those concerned about the virus can be outdoors. By working collaboratively with local authorities, we have been able to install the most appropriate solutions for the location and help to deliver the objectives of both councils and businesses for increased footfall.

This positive impact, for both the daytime and nighttime economies can be substantial and there are also knock-on benefits for high street retail as people return to urban centres to enjoy their leisure time. Most importantly of all, our expertise means that local authorities are able to put pedestrianization measures in place that enhance public safety, with protection from vehicle as a weapon attacks and errant drivers. While our surface mounted systems can be deployed rapidly and are removed when no longer required, they provide a much safer and more robust perimeter for outdoor seating and pedestrianized areas than cones or temporary barriers.

As we wait for spring, we do so in the hope that good weather will arrive and the Covid virus – with all its variants – will finally take its leave. The effects on our hospitality sector will be felt for some time to come but creative thinking and a can-do approach can help to mitigate them.

To find out more about pedestrianization for outdoor dining, take a look at our case study about the solution we provided in Soho.

The pandemic has taken its toll on the high street. It’s estimated that 10,000 licensed premises – including pubs, clubs and restaurants – closed their doors for good in 2020 thanks to lockdowns, restrictions and struggling trade, with independent businesses being hardest hit. The loss of Christmas trade thanks to lockdown at the end of 2020 prompted a difficult start to 2021 for the sector, and last year the roller coaster continued, with fluctuating restrictions, the pingdemic and the end of the furlough scheme all putting pressure on hospitality businesses.

The latest statistics from the ONS estimate that consumer spending on hospitality remains at 70 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. And with Omnicron’s arrival just in time for Christmas 2021, bringing with it another lean festive period for pubs and restaurants, the urgent need for a return to easier trading conditions is just as great as we look forward to spring 2022.

There have been lessons learned along the way, including the need to build resilience into hospitality businesses to allow them to continue trading as successive public health measures have been introduced and people’s habits have changed. We can identify two key themes here: the use of technology to enable contactless ordering and table service, and the use of vehicle safety barriers to enable outdoor seating areas.

As a nation, we have been reluctant to adapt to al fresco dining and drinking in the past. Beer gardens are traditionally the preserve of smokers and the all-to-rare balmy summer evenings when a beer in the sunshine is de rigeur. Sitting outdoors at hospitality venues has been viewed as a warm weather activity, despite the popularity of outdoor seating in much colder climates than ours all year round.

With the restrictions we’ve experienced and the nervousness about crowded indoor spaces that persists for many, however, there is now a much more accepting attitude towards outdoor seating at bars and restaurants. And with that acceptance from consumers, there is an opportunity for local authorities to support hospitality businesses by pedestrianizing to enable additional covers and capacity outdoors.

But pedestrianization needs to be put in place safely and in a professional manner that enables people to see clearly where there is pedestrian-only access and where vehicles are allowed. Pedestrianization strategies also need to include consideration of emergency vehicle access to new pedestrian-only zones and practical requirements for hospitality businesses, such as deliveries.

At Crowdguard, we have already worked with several local authorities to help them implement pedestrianization projects, specifically to support hospitality businesses. These locations have been used to provide safe outdoor seating areas that offer additional capacity and a location where those concerned about the virus can be outdoors. By working collaboratively with local authorities, we have been able to install the most appropriate solutions for the location and help to deliver the objectives of both councils and businesses for increased footfall.

This positive impact, for both the daytime and nighttime economies can be substantial and there are also knock-on benefits for high street retail as people return to urban centres to enjoy their leisure time. Most importantly of all, our expertise means that local authorities are able to put pedestrianization measures in place that enhance public safety, with protection from vehicle as a weapon attacks and errant drivers. While our surface mounted systems can be deployed rapidly and are removed when no longer required, they provide a much safer and more robust perimeter for outdoor seating and pedestrianized areas than cones or temporary barriers.

As we wait for spring, we do so in the hope that good weather will arrive and the Covid virus – with all its variants – will finally take its leave. The effects on our hospitality sector will be felt for some time to come but creative thinking and a can-do approach can help to mitigate them.

To find out more about pedestrianization for outdoor dining, take a look at our case study about the solution we provided in Soho.

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