The newly announced Christmas rail strikes will be “devastating” for the hospitality sector, and result in huge disruption to people’s social plans, as well as employees’ ability to get to work, trade bodies have warned.

Industrial action will be held across four 48-hour periods, covering 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-4 and 6-7 January.

The fresh wave of industrial action is likely to mean a “huge drop in sales” for venues across the sector.

“Further strikes during the busiest time of the year for hospitality will be devastating, just as everyone was anticipating an uninterrupted Christmas period for the first time in three years,” Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality said.

“I’d encourage all parties to come together to find a resolution that can avoid further strikes and the disruption they cause both businesses and the public.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association, said businesses across the country were relying on a busy Christmas period to pull them through what is set to be a very difficult winter in the months that follow, “pubs have been hoping to make the most of Christmas party bookings and festive gatherings for the first time in three years”.

“News of these rail strikes in the weeks leading up to Christmas will hit pubs in town and city centres hard. The week of the strikes is usually the busiest in the year for our industry, but instead of supporting pubs, customers will be cancelling bookings and staying home, whilst staffing shortages will be exacerbated by a lack of transport options for employees,” she said.

“Our industry desperately needs this Christmas boost, we urgently need a resolution to reinstate train services and ensure that customers and staff can travel easily and confidently, or the impact on trade will be catastrophic.”

Michael Kill, chief executive, Night Time Industries Association added: “The announcement today of further strike action during the festive period will be catastrophic, and will inevitably have a knock on effect on service either side of the key holiday period. These sporadic weekly or daily planned strikes are eating into consumer confidence, leaving many concerned about travelling.”

“Our industry is already suffering heavily from rising costs, as inflation reaches a 40 year high, consumer disposable income is at an all-time low, coupled with rail strike action feel we are revisiting Christmas 2021.”