Operators have been feeling the impact of the Government’s mixed messages around what employers and the public should do in the face of the new Omicrom variant.
City centre and grab-and-go operators reported a spike in sales on Monday 29th November as people scrambled to shop and complete other activities without having to wear face masks. However, the days that have followed have shown a downward trend as more people are choosing to work from home and employers are reducing the number of staff in their offices.
This pattern has continued across the industry with reports of Christmas party bookings and other group activities being cancelled due to the growing fears over the latest Covid-19 variant. There has also been a drop off in demand for new bookings when compared to the same time in 2019.
At the end of November, Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK’s Health Security Agency said that everyone can do their bit by reducing the number of social contacts they have – and by “not socialising when we don’t particularly need to”.
Following this announcement, Boris Johnson went on to urge people to not cancel Christmas parties and other face-to-face events, but many believe the reintroduction of face masks in some settings and inconsistent Government messaging has negatively affected consumer confidence.
With the government offering guidance but not introducing official government policy, businesses are suffering the consequences as consumers take matters into their own hands and reduce their movements, with no support or compensation provided to the businesses affected.