The number of people working in hospitality has dropped by 18% compared to September 2019 as the coronavirus crisis continues to have an increasing impact on jobs in the sector, according to Fourth.

The latest figures show that approximately 500,000 people in the industry (almost one in five) have lost their job since January, with roughly 43% of the workforce still on furlough.

The hotel sector has seen the greatest dip in headcount, falling by 20% compared to last year, closely followed by restaurants at -19%.

QSR saw a 16% drop, whilst pubs have managed to retain the most staff so far with the workforce 15% down on last September.

The total number of hours worked across the sector in September was 20,283,957, which is in line with the hours recorded in August, but 48% down compared to September last year.

Whilst the hotel and QSR sectors recorded higher levels of activity compared to August (up 3% and 6% respectively), pubs and restaurants saw a reduction in working hours (8% and 2%).

The working hours seem to reflect a simultaneous drop in footfall, with Wireless Social’s footfall tracker indicating a drop-off in traffic over the course of the month.

The national average tracked at 39% below pre-covid levels on Saturday 5th September, compared to 42% below the average on Saturday 26th September.

The weekend of 3rd October registered the lowest figures since early August, coming in at 46% below average levels.

“September has been incredibly tough for hospitality businesses, as the sector has been hit by further challenging restrictions that have impacted trading and consumer confidence,” said Sebastien Sepierre, managing director at Fourth. “The fact that nearly half of the workforce remain on furlough, with the closure of the scheme on 31st October is concerning.

“However, this is an extremely innovative and resilient sector, and it’s vital that operators continue to think and act dynamically, particularly around the way they schedule labour to ensure they have the right number of team members in place, to deliver guests the experience they expect.”