Deserted streets have hammered shop trade (Image: Getty Images)
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Takings at hospitality and leisure businesses have plunged by up to half in the coronavirus crisis, figures reveal tonight.
Trade in industries hammered by Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing curbs has been clobbered, according to a House of Commons Library analysis commissioned by Labour.
It found non-food retail, hospitality, leisure and cultural businesses and organisations have suffered a £61billion hit to takings so far this year compared with 2019.
The figures come as businesses face the run-up to Christmas gripped by uncertainty over when they will be allowed to reopen – and what restrictions will be in place.
The England-wide lockdown ends on December 2, but there are fears tough restrictions could remain under the “tiered” regime.
Coronavirus as seen under a microscope
The Government is due to outline its plan next week.
Non-food retailers take a fifth of turnover, totalling £39bn, in the countdown to the festive period – twice as much as takings in January and February.
But businesses in accommodation and food services say turnover has plummeted by 79%, while in arts, entertainment and leisure, takings were down 71% last month compared with a typical October.
Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell said: “The run-up to Christmas is an absolutely critical time of year for so many businesses on our high streets facing a triple whammy of tumbling turnover, plummeting profits and crumbling confidence as a result of the Government’s failure to tackle the coronavirus.
Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell
(Image: Manchester Evening News)
“Many companies are hanging on by their fingertips.
“If they are left to go bust by the Government, we’ll see a bleak mid-winter for many, and an avalanche of job losses.”
The warning came as a top scientist said mixing at Christmas poses "substantial risks".
Government adviser Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at University College London and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said the country was "on the cusp" of being able to vaccinate older populations and it would be "tragic" to throw away the gains made in suppressing coronavirus.
Professor Andrew Hayward
He also attacked the Government for "inconsistent" messages , saying it was clear that if people wanted to avoid Covid-19 they should not mix indoors.
Prof Hayward told the BBC: "Mixing at Christmas does pose substantial risks, particularly in terms of bringing together generations with high incidence of infection with the older generations who currently have much lower levels of infection and are at most risk of dying if they catch Covid.
“My personal view is we're putting far too much emphasis on having a near-normal Christmas.
“We know respiratory infections peak in January so throwing fuel on the fire over Christmas can only contribute to this.”
Cabinet Minister Ben Wallace told ITV's Good Morning Britain: “Ultimately we will try and make sure we protect our NHS and safeguard lives.
“I don't want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas – I'm not campaigning for that.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
(Image: Liverpool ECHO)
“I would love all of us to be able to have a Christmas, but more than anything I want us to get through this Covid and try and get this country back to normal and I want to protect lives."
Asked if carol singing would be allowed, the PM's spokesman said: “Whilst Christmas will be different this year, we will look to relax rules to allow families to have as normal a Christmas as possible.
“We will set out our plans next week.”