Bookings levels for Christmas parties in pubs are a fifth lower than pre-pandemic levels, as the sector is impacted by the move by many to work more from home, it has warned.

The drop in bookings has also been blamed on the cost-of-living crisis and changing attitudes to alcohol, The Telegraph has reported. This is despite pubs being able to open unrestricted for the first time since 2019.

In a normal year, British pubs take in around £2.3bn in December – about one tenth of their annual income and their most profitable month by far – according to the British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA)

But a survey of 5,000 venues last week found that festive bookings are down by 20% compared to what was normal before the pandemic.

A spokesman for the BBPA said it was likely due to a combination of factors, including employers being more cost-conscious due to recession fears, consumers cutting spending in the face of rising mortgage and energy bills and increased numbers of staff who now work remotely at many white-collar firms.

By comparison, separate analysis by UKHospitality, found that December bookings for the wider hospitality sector were only slightly below 2019 levels.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive, UKHospitality, said that while bookings had fallen by 20% last year, with the spread of the omicron and the implementation of further restrictions, this year it was “cautiously optimistic”.

“Bookings are coming in, but they tend to come in a little later these days than they did before the pandemic,” she said.