The steep decline in sales across the hospitality sector acted as a brake on the UK’s growth rate last year, with the sector responsible for a third of the country’s annual contraction.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics earlier today (12 February) revealed that the UK economy shrank by 9.9% in 2020, with the output of the accommodation and food services sector 51.8% lower than the previous year.

According to analysis from UK Hospitality and CGA, hospitality alone saw a 54% drop in sales last year, equivalent to a loss of £71.8bn, making the sector responsible for a third of the UK’s annual £215bn contraction.

In Q4, hospitality dragged UK quarterly growth down 0.95% to 1% as sector sales fell by a third.

“This morning’s figures make for bleak reading, but also serve to drive home the point about the importance of hospitality as an economic force,” said UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls. “When hospitality struggles, the entire UK economy struggles.

“If we are capable of having such a hugely detrimental impact, we are just as capable of a hugely beneficial one, though. If our businesses are given the support they need to survive the remaining months of the crisis and put in a position to thrive again, they can drive the recovery of the nation.

“If the Government gives us an extension of the VAT cut and the business rates holiday at next month’s Budget, then we will be in a much better position to help turn things around. The statistics published this morning show that there is really no other option for the Government than to back us totally.”