After the tumult of the last two and a half years, the hotel sector was hoping for a banner year 2022 to recoup its pandemic losses. But while businesses have seen an increase in customers looking to spend their lockdown savings, the twin pressures of staff shortages and rising costs are now forcing many clubs, restaurants, pubs and hotels to turn people away and to close their doors in the middle of the week.
Bouncers are a particularly rare role. Three-quarters of clubs, pubs and bars said they lacked security staff, with some closing earlier or closing entirely on Tuesdays or Wednesdays as well as Mondays, according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).
Job postings for security personnel have jumped 59% since February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic – well ahead of the overall 45% increase in postings for all roles, according to the job search site. Indeed jobs. However, interest in these positions fell 8% despite a 5.1% year-over-year salary increase.
The figures suggest that the shortages that began during the pandemic are still a problem in the industry, as a high employment rate offers job seekers an abundance of choice.
Aaron Mellor, the boss of Tokyo Industries, which runs 47 bars and clubs in the north of England, said a number of his venues were now operating one or two fewer nights a week and moving the hour of the last entry earlier due to a mix of higher costs and a shortage of experienced and qualified gate staff. “We have reduced mid-week nights to compress trade,” he said. “It’s not just about staff, it’s about public services and everything else.”
He said making the last entry earlier meant experienced staff could be redeployed inside the venue, although the switch to clubgoers buying tickets in advance rather than showing up spontaneously had facilitated change. “We get relatively few appointments,” he said.
While there are 250,000 licensed door security guards in the UK, 24,000 of them women, the NTIA said many have moved on during the pandemic and found other types of work with more sociable hours.
Michael Kill, the association’s chief executive, said resources had been stretched as people were “reluctant to take up a somewhat fragile role again in the face of further closures”. He added that there were fears shortages could worsen as the most experienced security staff were diverted to festivals over the summer.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, the trade body which represents thousands of restaurants, bars and hotels, said around a quarter of its members had been forced to cut their trading hours because the situation with security staff reflected similar recruitment issues in the industry. , chiefs being still particularly rare.
She said hospitality businesses were still about 10% short of staff, double the level before the pandemic, and were short by 188,000 permanent employees and 25,000 temporary or seasonal workers. “Some close on certain days of the week and certain portions, like breakfast or lunch,” she said. “Hotels limit the number of beds or rooms, so there is a significant impact on revenue.”
These shorter hours were introduced even before any significant reduction in customer spending as the cost of living crisis begins to bite. Pubs and restaurants have warned they are likely to see fewer visitors as they are forced to raise prices and cut discounts due to rising costs.
Nicholls said that, on average, businesses could do a fifth more trade if they operated with a full workforce.
Philip Turner, founder and managing director of the Chestnut group of pubs in East Anglia, said three or four of his 15 outlets had now moved to five days a week from seven, closing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
He said it was becoming increasingly difficult to book dinners on Monday and Tuesday nights in the industry amid the fight for staff. “Throughout the lockdown, we have seen a number of employees reluctant to return to work and there is now a real labor shortage,” he said. “It’s never been easy to hire, but Brexit and Covid haven’t made it any easier.”
While he said the group’s vacancy rate was similar to pre-pandemic, he pointed out that it had increased to more than four working days and had started offering other benefits such as a mini-festival for the staff, flexible hours and bonuses for the most juniors. kitchen staff as well as top chefs. The group also had to increase its salaries by 7.5% to 10% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“We try to create an environment where people want to work for us as a brand,” he said. “It’s not just about money. You’re not going to win the battle without a whole variety of things that are relevant to the way people want to live.