Wetherspoons sales were significantly lower in October than previous months as the imposition of new restrictions took its toll, the business has revealed in a trading update today.

For the 15 weeks to 8 November 2020, like-for-like sales decreased by 27.6%, and the pubco said that the tiering system, curfew, ‘at-table’ and mandatory facemask regulations had a serious impact on trade in the few weeks before lockdown.

With 756 of its pubs in England and Ireland closed, the company has estimated that cash burn for the period will be approximately £14m.

It currently has 64 trading pubs in Scotland and 51 in Wales, but said that the “extremely onerous” Scottish tiering system was having a “serious effect on trade.”

“For any pub or restaurant company trading in different parts of the UK, and for customers generally, the constantly changing national and local regulations, combined with geographical areas moving from one tier to another in the different jurisdictions, are baffling and confusing,” said chairman Tim Martin. “The entire regulatory situation is a complete muddle.

“However, the initial regulations, following reopening, introduced on 4 July, were carefully thought through, followed thorough consultation, and were based on solid scientific foundations of social distancing and hygiene. The benefits of the regulatory hyperactivity since then, including the imposition of a curfew, are questionable.”

He continued: “A particular anxiety in the hospitality industry relates to the future timescale for the ending of ‘temporary’ regulations. Veterans of the industry will recall that the afternoon closing of pubs between about 3pm and 6pm was imposed in the First World War, to encourage munitions workers to return to their factories - but the requirement for afternoon closing was only abolished in 1986.”

The group raised £137.7 million through a share placing in April, and a further £48.3 million through a CLBILS loan in August 2020.

On 25 October 2020, it had £234 million of liquidity, which it has said remains significantly higher, and current liabilities lower, than before the March lockdown.