Planning Christmas with Covid

How operators can adjust their approach for a different kind of Christmas

Yesterday’s announcement from the Prime Minister, introducing a new three-tiered system of restrictions in England from tomorrow (Wednesday 14 October) which will see pubs and bars in the local areas deemed at very high risk of transmission of Covid-19 closed, was another reminder for operators that this year’s festive period will be an altogether different experience for the people who make the country’s hospitality trade the exceptional industry it is.

With the new system, a 10pm curfew and table service by law, all introduced recently - due to the quadrupling of Coronavirus cases over the past four weeks – this November and December will not be Christmas as usual. A new adjusted approach will have to be mapped out.

Whether its via marketing, upselling or altering food and drink offers accordingly – there’s no shortage of ways to tackle the upcoming festive season fruitfully and, as the trade learns tough lessons from this year’s national lockdown, operators can also plan as best as possible for a second closure should that worst-case scenario come to pass.

We have a five-pronged approach for this unusual festive period ahead

Getting the word out this winter

With the recent introduction of a nationwide 10pm curfew for licensed venues, as well as the passing into law of table service for pubs and the existing ‘rule of six’ remaining in place, there’s little doubt that some potential patrons have been discouraged from visiting the on-trade or making advance bookings for Christmas meals or festive drinks.

Read tip 1

The importance of the upsell

It’s probably never been as essential to ensure that your staff are upselling than throughout the forthcoming festive season. Under usual trading conditions, many pubs and bars would simply be trying to serve all their customers in November and December, but with reduced capacities across the board this year making sure that all team members are successfully maximising spend per head is crucial.

Read tip 2

Getting the price right with menus

The straightforward nature of Christmas food, combined with the extended 5% VAT rate for hospitality businesses, offers a positive for operators going into winter. With classic Christmas fayre done well the order of the day, an approach which is both quick to make and competitive on price has been flagged as one solid way to really lift takings and push footfall into outlets.

Read tip 3

Hot boosts for drinks sales

Considering how many premium options you have available, the festive season can provide another string to licensees’ bows. With such drinks selections expected to be in demand, licensees should look to cater to customers looking to treat themselves throughout Christmas.

Read tip 4

Reducing the impact from a potential second lockdown

Although many in the on-trade may not wish to even contemplate it, the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in the UK combined with the introduction of a localised approach to dealing with the pandemic has made it more likely that many bars will unfortunately have to go through another lockdown this winter.

The fear of possible closure, be it by a second lockdown or through being told to shut due to positive track and trace tests, will be a major burden for operators throughout the coming months.

Read tip 5