Campari calls for action to stop Christmas being cancelled for hospitality workers

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A collapse in Christmas party bookings as Covid-19 forces companies to cancel or cut back celebrations will cost the country’s hospitality industry an estimated £717 million, new research reveals – dealing another blow to the beleaguered bar trade and the millions of people it employs.

In response to the findings, Campari UK is calling on businesses that may no longer be putting money behind the bar this Christmas to instead put it behind the bar staff – donating a suggested five per cent from their unused party budget to hospitality worker relief fund Shaken Not Broken.

Already, companies including Wavemaker UK, The Craft Gin Club, Spinach Branding, Revolution Bars Group, HT Drinks and entrepreneur, investor and TV Dragon Sarah Willingham have donated to the cause.

The research commissioned for the campaign finds a dramatic 73 per cent drop in the proportion of businesses planning to hold parties in hospitality venues, from seven in ten in 2019 (71 per cent) to just two in ten this year (19 per cent).

Two fifths of British businesses (38 per cent) have completely cancelled or postponed any celebration this year, with 18 per cent downgrading to a virtual event and a further 8 per cent still yet to decide.

With companies ordinarily spending an average of £49.80 per employee on end-of-year celebrations, the ultimate impact on bar staff income and emotional and mental wellbeing could be disastrous.

Recent data from pub and restaurant trade bodies has in fact warned of 750,000 fewer people in jobs in the sector by February 2021 as 72 per cent of employers expect to operate at a loss and be forced out of business.

Shaken Not Broken was established in April 2020 to offer much-needed help, such has been the impact of Covid-19 on frontline bar workers’ livelihoods – and lives – due to the pandemic.

Founded with an initial £100,000 donation from Campari UK, which has also given on-going support as the crisis has continued, the fund is administered by hospitality charity The Drinks Trust, with donations facilitated by TiPJAR.

A £500 contribution from an unused Christmas party budget would give two struggling hospitality workers financial assistance, mental health and wellbeing support, or an education and training grant to help increase their employment opportunities.

The campaign research also underlines the impact Covid-19 is already having on hospitality staff and the businesses they would serve, even before Christmas party season would ordinarily be underway.

Brad Madigan, Managing Director of Campari UK, said: “The unavoidable cancellation of a large number of work Christmas celebrations will place even more financial pressure on the hospitality industry, already struggling under the weight of reduced footfall, curfews and widespread lockdowns. Many hospitality venues have cut staff numbers, reduced staff hours considerably or, even worse, not re-opened at all since March – placing hundreds of thousands of staff on furlough or directly into unemployment.

“That’s why we’re calling on the UK business community to donate a small part of what they’ve saved from cancelling this year’s Christmas celebration events to the Shaken Not Broken Fund. We know times are extremely challenging for many, but any donation, however large or small, will make a genuine difference to people’s lives. It really is time to support those in the hospitality industry who would normally be serving us at this time of year.”

One in four cancellations is due to the intended venue being closed because of Covid-19 restrictions, with six per cent because the venue has already gone bust. One in five businesses also report that their office local, so often a key part of company morale and culture, has been forced to closed down permanently because of the pandemic.

Sarah Willingham said: “If your business can’t put some money behind the bar this Christmas, please put it behind the bar staff instead.”