UK

Just 19% businesses to have Christmas party amid Covid pandemic

Less than two in ten businesses will hold a Christmas party this year, according to new figures.

Economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic mean just 19 per cent have planned a festive gathering for staff compared to 71 per cent which booked venues last year.

The collapse in bookings is set to cost the hard-hit hospitality industry an estimated £717 million.

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

With companies ordinarily spending an average of £49.80 per employee on end-of-year celebrations, the impact on bars and their staff’s income could be disastrous.

Less than two in ten businesses will hold a Christmas party this year, according to new figures

A fifth of companies (20 per cent) have cancelled because of the number of staff working from home and 38 per cent cited concerns around staff wellbeing.

It comes as new campaign urging businesses to donate their Christmas party budgets to charity has raised more than £1.1million since its launch a month ago. 

‘Xmas Party Heroes’ is the brainchild of Mark Hawthorn, the CEO of investor Landmark Group. 

With Covid-19 causing most businesses to cancel their Christmas parties this year, the campaign encourages companies to donate any unused funds to a charity of their choice.

Mark said: ‘There will be lots of unspent Christmas party budgets this year and this campaign offers a really simple and effective solution that many businesses may not have considered.

Economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic mean just 19 per cent have planned a festive gathering for staff compared to 71 per cent which booked venues last year

Economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic mean just 19 per cent have planned a festive gathering for staff compared to 71 per cent which booked venues last year

‘I only had the idea a week ago and after making a few calls to sound it out, I’ve been inundated with people wanting to get onboard. The reaction so far shows there is the potential to raise tens of millions of pounds for charity.

‘With the help of my team, we’ve launched a Xmas Party Heroes website to support the campaign and keep the momentum going. All we ask is that businesses let us know how much they have donated so we can keep a running total and help make a massive difference to those who need it the most.’

Companies that have already pledged money to charities through the campaign, include Timpson, Property Alliance Group, Urban Splash, FK Group and Barratt Developments.     

Meanwhile drinks company Campari UK is calling on businesses to instead donate five per cent from their unused party budget to hospitality worker relief fund Shaken Not Broken.

Recent data from pub and restaurant trade bodies has warned of 750,000 fewer 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 help to frontline bar workers’ whose livelihoods have been hit by 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.

The collapse in bookings is set to cost the hard-hit hospitality industry an estimated £717 million

The collapse in bookings is set to cost the hard-hit hospitality industry an estimated £717 million

Brad Madigan, Managing Director of Campari UK, said: ‘The 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.’

With England returning to a series of tiered restrictions, all of which include specific measures for hospitality venues, the research highlights how negotiating these has led to cancellations.

More than a third (37 per cent) are due to the difficulty of maintaining social distancing in venues and 35 per cent because of the Rule of Six.

One in seven businesses (13 per cent) have been forced to cancel their usual end-of-year celebration because of their own financial situation.

One in eight (12 per cent) also report that their office local has been forced to closed down permanently because of the pandemic. 


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