With two weeks to go until the first planned rail strike in December, trade bodies have written an open letter to the negotiating parties in the rail dispute, stressing the urgent need for a resolution.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA); British Institute of Innkeeping; Night Time Industries Association; Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street; and the Association of Town and City Management have said the latest round of strikes will be “incredibly damaging” to the sector.

Rail strikes are currently scheduled on 13, 14, 16, and 17 December, as well as four days in the first week of January.

The letter urges parties to reach a settlement so businesses and communities can operate freely in the critical Christmas trading period, during which pubs earn a significant portion of their annual takings – equivalent to £2.3bn for the month, and £582m in the week of the proposed strikes.

The lack of resolution has led to uncertainty and damage for businesses and staff following three years of “monumental struggle” for the industry, according to the letter.

“Make no mistake – businesses will be forced to close their doors as a result of this and for some it may be the last time they do so.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive, BBPA, said: “The weeks leading up to Christmas are the busiest of the year for pubs, and they were looking forward to trading normally for the first time in three years, but news of these strikes have dealt a serious blow in an already critically difficult economic climate.

“Every day we go without a resolution is another day of damage to the industry, with cancellations being made and Christmas parties called off. Our industry desperately needs a boost this Christmas and so we are urging all parties to find an urgent resolution to rescue this festive season from ruin for our pubs.”

The comments follow a letter written by UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls last week, to Transport Secretary Mark Harper.

Nicholls outlined the scale of damage facing the sector, with analysis showing industrial action will cost the sector £1.5bn on strike days – similar to the disruption caused by Omicron last year.

Businesses have already seen large-scale cancellations, which will have a “devastating” impact on the sector and its workforce during the critical trading period, according to Nicholls.

She commented: “The impact of rail strikes already this year has been devastating and wide-reaching, but this will pale in comparison to what we will see as a result of the upcoming strikes in December.

“This disruption will devastate hospitality businesses during its busiest period of the year and will once again force the public to cancel and rearrange plans, just as they were preparing for an uninterrupted Christmas. Businesses have already seen mass cancellations which won’t be rescheduled, costing the sector billions in lost sales.

“The Christmas period is not just good for businesses, it’s the most lucrative time for workers where they can benefit from additional overtime and higher levels of tips due to excess demand.

“These strikes damage all parts of society and it’s now time that the government proactively brings all partners to the table to deliver a solution that protects the nation’s workers and hospitality customers this Christmas.”