COVID-19 Impacts - United Kingdom

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Economic Outlook - United Kingdom

The economy in the United Kingdom had already showed signs of slowing due to the uncertainty caused by Brexit. The first COVID-19 cases were identified in the UK in late-January, around the same time that the UK officially left the European Union. Since the UK is still working to manage the spread of the virus and the country is still on lockdown, economic recovery unlikely in the immediate future. The current situation in the UK of the virus, economy and government actions are detailed below.

Current Situation

  • The number of COVID-19 cases based on a three-day average is still increasing each day as of March 30, 2020, according to reports from Johns Hopkins University. The country has 22,453 reported cases and 1,411 deaths.
  • As this page is updated regularly, a screenshot of the graphs and statistics referenced can be seen here.
  • The BBC is reporting higher numbers claiming the deaths of 2,352 virus patients as of Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
  • The UK has canceled Wimbledon and suspended all Champions and Europa League (European football) games until further notice. The country has also canceled the Edinburgh cultural festivals that were scheduled to take place in August. This suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK has not yet shown signs of slowdown.

Past Economy

  • Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, economic growth in the UK had showed signs of slowing, showing only 0.5% growth gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of 2019 and a flat GDP in the fourth quarter. This is compared to a 1.1% growth in GDP in the fourth quarter of the prior year.
  • Brexit has caused uncertainty in the economy of the UK, resulting in a weaker value for the British pound and less investment in business.
  • The UK left the European Union on January 31, 2020; however, the country continues to follow the EU rules during the transition period schedule to last until the end of 2020.
  • The full effects and future of Brexit is unclear as negotiations with EU have been delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This may lead to more uncertainty in the market as the UK has left the EU without finalized trade agreements.

Travel Sector

  • Travel restrictions around the world have damaged the UK's aviation industry and leaders in the industry including bosses of Virgin Atlantic and the Civil Aviation Authority have requested government funding to keep the airlines afloat during this crisis.
  • The struggling British airline Flybe collapsed in early-March due to the decrease in demand and travel restrictions from the coronavirus, leaving passengers to find alternative transportation home.
  • Travel tour operators are also at risk of going out of business due to the financial strain of issuing refunds for canceled tours as required by current regulations.
  • In a news article published on March 13, 2020, UKHospitality had already reported a 15% decrease in hotel occupancy and 7% decrease in eating and drinking out. This was prior to the lockdown issued in the UK on March 24, 2020, which closed pubs and restaurants.

Retail Sector

  • As of March 2020, fashion sales in the UK are down by £11.1 billion from 2019. The lockdown in the UK and concern about ensuring adequate food supply significantly contributes to the decreased spending on non-essential items. Online sales may help companies survive, but are unlikely to make up for lost business in retail locations.
  • The Confederation of British Industry reported an increase in stockpiling of groceries with the grocery sales index increasing from 29 in February 2020 to 94 in March 2020. The index for clothing and furniture stores was reported at negative 75, showing a deterioration in sales.
  • Retail sales had already begun dropping in February, decreasing by 0.3% over January's sales numbers due to bad weather in the country.
  • Supply chain issues are also affecting retail sales with 24% of companies reporting a significant impact to their business.

Government Actions

  • The UK government has taken significant actions to boost the economy by helping support businesses and employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes £330 billion in government-backed loans for small businesses. Some small businesses are also eligible to receive cash grants up to £25,000.
  • The government has committed to refunding companies with fewer than 250 employees for up to two weeks of statutory sick pay per employee to help with COVID-19-related sick leave expenses.
  • The government committed to establishing a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that would allow employers to apply for a grant to cover up to 80% of the salary of employees not currently working for up to three months.
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme allows businesses to apply for loans that are interest-free for up to 12 months.
  • The government has also deferred VAT payments until the end of June and delayed income tax payments for self-employed individuals until January 31, 2021.

Research Strategy

To provide examples of economic recovery as cases of COVID-19 slow in the United Kingdom, we started by evaluating the current situation of the virus in the country. Our findings show that while the government is hopeful that lockdown and containment efforts have started to slow the spread of the virus, current numbers of new cases and deaths are still increasing. Despite that we, continued to look for signs of economic recovery. While the government has taken actions to help small businesses by issuing loans help them survive the COVID-19 outbreak, we did not find signs of economic recovery for the country. We also looked specifically at the retail and travel verticals and did not find positive signs in terms of recovery. As an alternative, we did provide details on the current state of these industries as well as the governments actions to help boost the economy.
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COVID-19 Impacts on Film and Movie Theaters - United Kingdom

As a result of COVID-19, the film and movie theater segment of the entertainment industry in the United Kingdom (UK) was severely affected. Major chains were forced into temporary closure, events had to be canceled, box office takings dipped, and film and cinema chains experienced huge losses in market share.

Temporary Closures And Cancellation Of Events

  • As a result of the COVID-19 ongoing situation, a significant number of cinemas all across the United Kingdom have announced that they are temporarily shutting down until further notice.
  • The announcements came a day after Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, urged the public to avoid unnecessary social activities, such as visiting theaters.
  • Major chains that will be shutting down in response to COVID-19 include Cineworld, Picturehouse, Odeon, Vue, and Curzon.
  • Independent cinema chains, such as Everyman Cinemas, have also opted to shut down all of their 30 locations until further notice as a result of the pandemic.
  • Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of Cineworld, made a statement regarding the decision to close all their locations in the UK, mentioning that Cineworld is committed "to providing safe and healthy environments for our employees and guests." Their decision to temporarily close all their cinemas across the UK was made as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent advice of the UK government, "which the company has been carefully monitoring and following."
  • The British Film Institute (BFI) had also "announced their decision to cancel or postpone all their forthcoming events and screenings until further notice."

Social Distancing

  • Showcase Cinemas had initially introduced measures such as social distancing as an alternative over closing all of their locations in the United Kingdom. They announced that they have "reduced audience capacity by 50% in each auditorium to allow for vacant space between each pair of seats" as a precautionary measure.
  • However, following the guidelines provided by the UK government, they too have temporarily shut down their cinemas nationwide.

Ticket Refunds

  • Curzon, as part of their policy, have contacted all ticker holders for their upcoming films to offer a full refund.
  • Cineworld has refunded all ticket holders who have made online bookings. They have also announced that they will be extending their customers' Cineworld Plus membership accounts.
  • Picturehouse customers who have either pre-booked tickets over the phone or online "will be automatically issued a refund within 14 working days of cinemas closing."
  • Another major cinema chain, ODEON, has announced that pre-booked tickets online will be refunded automatically.
  • Everyman Cinemas have urged customers who have purchased a ticket to their screenings or events to contact them directly through email, where they will "deal with each request individually." They have also paused memberships and will not take further monthly payments from subscribers until they have reopened their venues again.
  • Showcase Cinemas announced that "all tickets purchased in advance for future shows can be refunded by contacting the cinema directly."

Box Office Performance And Financial Losses

  • The UK film and movie theater industry has experienced financial losses due to coronavirus fears and the subsequent closing of major cinema chains nationwide.
  • During the days before the nationwide closures of cinema chains, movie theaters had already experienced very poor attendance in their screening rooms as a result of coronavirus fears.
  • During the weekend of March 13th to 15th, total box office takings were down 49% when compared to the previous week's total. While films screened the first weekend of March made a total of £6.47 million, box office takings were at £3.31 million during the weekend of March 13th to 15th.
  • According to qualitative data from the London Stock Exchange, major theater chains such as Cineworld have suffered huge losses as a result of COVID-19.
  • The stock of the leading cinema chain in the UK by market share, Cineworld, was down 25% after they announced that it was closing all of its cinemas.
  • Cineworld warned that should they" be forced to shut screens to contain the coronavirus, the move would cast serious doubt on its ability to carry on operating."

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COVID-19 Impacts on TV, Music, and Live Events - United Kingdom

The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably significantly impacted UK culture and events. TV, music and other live events have all seen widespread cancellations and adjustments as the country attempts to mitigate public exposure to the coronavirus.

BBC and Television

  • TV and radio broadcaster the BBC has announced several initiatives to not only keep audiences informed but also to step in with entertainment as all live events are cancelled around the country.
  • It has added a weekly prime-time TV special covering the pandemic, a daily podcast and radio question-and-answer sessions.
  • The BBC also announced it was focusing its local radio stations on coronavirus-related content between 6am-noon everyday.
  • Additionally, they are ramping up their TV broadcasting of "live" events like church services.
  • Like all broadcasters mandated by the government, the broadcaster has also moved to filming its shows without a live TV audience. For some show types, this has presented significant challenges.
  • For example, the 40 year-old Question Time was recorded without an audience for the first time ever. This question-and-answer show had to overcome its usual extremely interactive format, using video links to allow "audience" members to pose questions.
  • Again, like other channels/broadcasters, they have also suspended filming of many popular shows, such as soap operas Eastenders and Holby City. Consequently, the BBC also had to cut down the number of episodes it aired per week, in a bid to try to not "run out" of content before they could resume filming.
  • Interestingly enough, it seems that people are also watching more TV. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's coronavirus address on March 24 was watched by 28 million people, breaking the records by many famous broadcasts like the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony.
  • Weekly TV viewing figures are dramatically up. In the week ending March 22, people watched 28 minutes more TV per day than the year before. Levels right now are hitting the same that are only usually seen around Christmas. National news broadcasts on major channels like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 also saw much higher figures.

West End

  • Live theater, of course, has also been impacted by the pandemic. All theatres closed on March 16, 2020.
  • The closings affected over 290,000 people employed in the industry. The union asked patrons to consider donating their ticket costs to help workers.
  • Performances are cancelled through at least April 26, 2020.
  • Some theatres responded that they were also offering ticket-holders a video recording of the performance.
  • London's West End was actually one of the last global theater hotspots to close its doors in response to the pandemic.
  • Similarly, the Royal Opera House and Sadler's Wells (a prominent dance theatre) also closed around the same time.
  • Some shows themselves were also affected. Waitress the Musical announced it would not resume performances once theatres re-opened.

Festivals and Music


  • All sporting events have also been impacted by the pandemic. Just today, it was announced that the annual tennis tournament at Wimbledon would not be held for the first time since World War II.
  • The London Marathon has been postponed until October 4, 2020.
  • Connected to the Olympic Games that were due to be held in July, many of qualifier events have been cancelled, such as the European Boxing Qualifier and British (swimming) Olympic Trials.
  • The traditional Cambridge vs Oxford boat race has been cancelled.
  • Cricket, rugby and football (soccer) matches have all been cancelled. Rugby was particularly affected because three UK nations (England, Scotland and Wales) were in the middle of the annual Six Nations Tournament.
  • According to one source, the nation's biggest sporting league, the English Premier League, is reporting that top-tier teams will lose at least £750 million due to the cancelled season. This is mostly due to lost revenue and broadcasting/commercial money.
  • Clubs are apparently asking players to take pay deferrals and forcing extended furloughs for staff of lower-tier clubs.
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COVID-19 Impacts on Automotive - United Kingdom

With lock down rules enforced by the police going into effect on March 23 and panic about exponentially increasing cases in the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom's automotive industry has seen widespread changes. The UK has joined other countries in calling on the industry to manufacture critical medical equipment in an effort unseen since wartime, showcasing the talent of automotive engineers. The UK's largest motor sports events have both been postponed. Finally, the UK automotive industry will have a long road to recovery, as nearly every major automotive manufacturing plant in the UK has suspended production and predictions show a sharp decline in car sales.

Car Manufacturers Aid Medical Professionals

  • Ford, Honda, Vauxhall, and Rolls-Royce are among 60 manufacturing and engineering firms that United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office contacted about switching production to vital medical equipment.
  • Jaguar Land Rover has loaned the British Red Cross 57 vehicles from its press fleet, and it will also lend vehicles to the NHS and emergency services, as well as donate protective equipment such as safety glasses to NHS hospitals.
  • Formula One engine manufacturer Mercedes partnered with University College London to re-engineer a breathing aid for COVID-19 treatment in less than 100 hours; the machine can be easily mass-produced and will go through clinical trials before deployment into hospitals across the UK.
  • Seven UK-based Formula One teams—Mercedes, Aston Martin, McLaren, BWT Racing Point F1 Team, Haas F1 Team, Renault DP World F1 Team, and Williams Racing—and their engineers have started Project Pitlane to respond to the call of the UK government to manufacture respiratory devices; they will pool their resources in order to accomplish "rapid design, prototype manufacture, test, and skilled assembly."

Closure of Manufacturing Plants

  • The production of passenger vehicles in the UK will fall 18 percent or to an output of 1.1 million vehicles in 2020, the lowest it has been since the 2009 financial crisis, due to the closure of major manufacturing facilities.
  • As of March 18, about 20,000 workers were furloughed due to plant closures.
  • Groupe PSA, which includes Vauxhall, has paused production at its Ellesmere Port and Luton plants due to cases at manufacturing sites, supply disruptions, and a sudden decline in demand.
  • When PSA does reopen, it says it will take steps to safeguard its employees against the spread of the virus, including regularly checking temperatures, wearing masks, cleaning tools and work surfaces every hour, and a three-hour wait between exchanges of parts.
  • Aston Martin has temporarily suspended all production at its plants in Gayden, Newport Pagnell, and St Athan until April 20 or later.
  • McLaren has suspended all manufacturing at its car production plant in Woking and components production site near Sheffield until the end of April.
  • Sports car manufacturer Morgan closed its factory in Malvern until the end of April.

Postponed Events

  • The Goodwood Festival of Speed, the UK's largest automotive event, has been postponed. It was scheduled for July and usually draws a substantial crowd: in 2017, over 498,000 tickets and wristbands were printed and over 300 exhibitors partnered with the event.
  • The British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) postponed its first three events, which were due to take place in March and April; it later postponed two more of its 10 events of the season, which were due to take place in May and June.
  • The BTCC Media and Test Day, its Silverstone launch event, was sold out, then the day before the event, BTCC was forced to cancel all public attendance.

Decline in Car Sales

  • The novel coronavirus will likely cause a decline in customer traffic in dealerships and cause supply chain disruptions.
  • Some say this predicted steep decline in car sales will make it difficult for the automotive industry to find the funds to meet new carbon emissions standards and invest in technological advancements to fight the climate crisis.
  • A report by the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, states that car sales in Western Europe will fall by at least 10 percent in 2020, from 14.3 million in 2019 to 12.7 million.
  • This report predicts the market will not recover to 2019 levels until 2030.
  • Dealerships in the UK such as Evans Halshaw have closed all their showrooms to the public and rescheduled appointments for April.

Research Strategy

To find examples of the impacts and changes in the United Kingdom's automotive industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we researched recent news articles, government statements, and industry reports.
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COVID-19 Impacts on Travel and Hotels - United Kingdom

Some hotels in the UK have shut down and others are converting their rooms into emergency safe spaces. There has been a 63% decline in flight bookings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hotel Shut down

  • In the UK, some hotels have closed their doors to abide by the unprecedented measures ordered by the government.
  • Several hotels are closing their public bars and restaurants. They are only opening to sell food and drinks to their residents.
  • As of early March 2020, there was a 65.5% drop in the UK hotel occupancy rate, when compared to 21% during the same period last year, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Hotel meeting and event spaces have also been closed. "Most are continuing to keep the bedrooms functioning until they are instructed to do something different by the government."
  • The hospitality industry in the country has been made to shut down without any support due to the outbreak, leading to thousands of job losses.
  • The hotel industry is also witnessing reductions in the number of visitors. According to Inn News, UK hotels have witnessed a 15% drop in bookings as the number of visitors declines due to the COVID-19 fears.
  • Recent research reveals "that forward bookings across hotels, restaurants, pubs, and bars have fallen by up to 50%."

Hotels converted into emergency safe spaces

  • According to the Hospitality Net, hotels are seeking alternative uses for their vacant bedrooms. "Over a month ago LGH's Holiday Inn near Heathrow hit the headlines as the government commandeered it for possible use as a quarantine zone for people entering the country who may have been exposed to the COVID-19."
  • Hotels are being turned into emergency safe reservations "under a national action plan drawn to protect rough sleepers from COVID-19."
  • Hoteliers such as Rob Paterson, Gary Neville, and Ryan Giggs have offered to give out their hotel rooms to the NHS as an emergency safe reserve.
  • The Guardian revealed that vacant hotels have been selected as an instant solution due to distinct cleaning facilities and rooms, and can be rented by the government to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This follows the finding by the University College of London, that putting helpless groups in "hotels is also significantly more cost-effective than treating individuals in the hospital."

Decline in flight bookings

  • Travel Daily reports that the UK has recorded a 63% decline in flight bookings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The decline is expected to continue due to government updates and anticipated heightened restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Major UK airlines such as British Airways and EasyJet have halted flights.
  • According to Inews, the UK travel industry is bracing for the impact of COVID-19. The global pandemic could affect about 50 million travel jobs globally, British Airways cautioned that the virus is creating an unusual crisis.
  • UK airline administrators are asking for an urgent multibillion-pound emergency bailout to stop the industry from getting shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The government's measures to contain the virus, such as restricting non-essential travel to any place in the world for at least 30 days, have since flight operators cancel travel to regions with the COVID-19 outbreak.
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COVID-19 Impacts on Finance - United Kingdom

The impacts from COVID-19 to the finance industry in the United Kingdom has amounted to several changes and actions taken by the Nation. These changes include the nation's top bank, the Bank of England and the Central Bank to enact an emergency interest rate cut, along with initiating an increase in their U.K. bond buying program. The United Kingdom's chancellor has also announced several stimulus budgets and actions in an effort to assist small businesses and struggling individuals. The nation's actions in total have also convinced the credit rating agency, Fitch, to downgrade the nation's rating.

Fitch Downgrades United Kingdom's Rating

  • As the United Kingdom developed and executed its response to the COVID-19 epidemic, including the limitations and shutting down of several economic sectors, the rating agency Fitch issued a downgrade for the United Kingdom. This downgrade takes the UK from an "AA" rating to now a "AA-" rating.
  • Fitch stated that the downgrade reflects the nation's actions and that they "will result in a sharp rise in general government deficit and debt ratios". The agency also predicts the deficit to increase to approximately 9% in 2021 from 2.1% of GDP the previous year.
  • The firm also estimates that the nation's GDP could recover back to 3% growth as early as next year, if the nation is able to mitigate and tackle the effects of the epidemic in the 2nd half of 2020.

United Kingdom's Banks

  • At the beginning of March, the Bank of England and United Kingdom's Central Bank made several changes to their policies through a stimulus effort, including an emergency action to lower interest rates to 0.5% from 0.75%, in hopes of assisting the slowing economy.
  • The stimulus efforts also included the Bank of England increasing its purchasing and holding of UK Government Bonds from £200 billion to a total of £645 billion.
  • The U.K. lowered capital requirements for the nation's banks, "allowing them to use a reserve they call a "counter-cyclical capital buffer," which is money kept in reserve to increase banks' resistance to global financial shocks."

Government Tax & Fiscal Actions

  • On March 11th, the U.K. finance minister Rishi Sunak proposed a new budget with nearly $37 billion in fiscal stimulus. The stimulus package included expanded benefits to self-employed and unemployed workers within the nation, amongst other benefits.
  • The stimulus package announce on the 11th of March included £18.5 billion in business tax cuts and grant funding to businesses hit the worst by the virus. As well as any company eligible for small business rates relief will be allowed a £3,000 cash grant as part of a £2 billion injection for 700,000 small businesses.
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on the 17th of March another round of stimulus effects which included £305 billion in business loan guarantees, while also providing further £25,000 grants to retail, hospitality, and leisure businesses.
  • Tax deferments were also enacted at the end of March which included over approximately £30 billion in deferred "Value Added" taxes.
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COVID-19 Impacts on QSR - United Kingdom

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted several areas of the QSR industry in the UK. Fast food restaurants including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC are among those that have been affected by the pandemic. As a result of widespread safety alerts, these restaurants have implemented their own health and safety measures to curb the spread of the virus while serving their customers.


  • On March 14, 2020, the CEO for McDonald’s UK made his first announcement regarding the coronavirus impact on the restaurant. He made statements regarding increased sanitization, disinfection, and cleaning of restaurant surfaces as well as employee reminders for frequent hand washing. As of this date, McDonald’s remained open as usual.
  • McDonald’s in the UK made another update on March 17, 2020, to temporarily close restaurant seating areas. On March 18, 2020, McDonald’s implemented drive-thru and McDelivery services only.
  • As of March 22, 2020, McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland have completely shut down for dine-in, drive-thru, and delivery services. According to the press release, McDonald’s would continue to work with community groups to distribute food to those in need.

Burger King

  • Although no direct press releases were given from Burger King UK’s website, they did make announcements via social media. On March 21, 2020, Burger King UK posted on Twitter and Instagram saying that they were still open for drive-thru and delivery services.
  • A few days prior to the March 21 announcement, their only messages regarding COVID-19 included one stating that all NHS, emergency, and social workers would receive free drinks at all UK restaurants.
  • As of March 24, 2020, all Burger King restaurants in the UK have been temporarily closed. It does not appear that Burger King UK is offering any other food alternatives or donations based on the latest news.


  • KFC made announcements on March 20, 2020, that they would be closing the dine-in seating areas while keeping drive-thru, take-out, and delivery options open. They also stated that they would increase cleaning and sanitizing procedures as well as recommend contactless payment methods.
  • On March 21, 2020, KFC UK reiterated their stance on COVID-19 measures. They stated that all seating areas would be closed while take-out, drive-thru, and home delivery would remain available.
  • KCF temporarily closed their restaurants beginning on the evening of March 23, 2020. Instead of throwing away excess food, the company stated that they would be distributing unused food through their Food Donation Scheme partners.


  • In response to COVID-19, Domino’s in the UK and Ireland rolled out contact-free delivery services on March 13, 2020. With this delivery service method, customers could instruct drivers where to drop off their order in order to limit physical contact.
  • On March 25, 2020, Dominos announced that they would be donating around 100,000 pizzas to staff at NHS facilities. The company said they would be delivering food to the frontline healthcare staff as a thank you for their service.
  • Dominos announced in a press release that they were switching completely to delivery services on March 27, 2020. They also stated that they had issued a number of measures to ensure the safety of their customers and staff while maintaining operations throughout their supply chain.
  • Due to Domino’s restaurants remaining open for delivery, some of the public has expressed concern. Some restaurants in the UK have experienced vandalism for staying open. There are also petitions requesting Domino’s to close completely due to the inability of staff to practice social distancing during work hours.
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COVID-19 Impacts on Retail - United Kingdom

The retail industry in the United Kingdom is facing significant impacts or changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include supply chain disruptions and high demand, the lockdown of stores and employee layoffs, and shifts in consumer behavior as e-commerce becomes the solution.

Supply Disruptions and High Demand

  • Nearly a quarter of retailers in the UK have recorded severe supply disruptions of their goods as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • This finding follows an earlier survey suggesting that at least 1 in 10 people in the UK is stockpiling food out of fear of interruptions caused by the pandemic.
  • Retailers ranging from health and beauty to food and fashion, about 24%, according to Retail Economics, have already witnessed supply chain disruptions, and this is causing "a significant impact on their businesses."
  • Still, according to Retail Economics, around "45% of brick-and-mortar retailers are reporting a decline in sales in store" as a result of disruptions in the supply of goods.
  • On the other hand, with the mass-stockpiling of food and other retail commodities by consumers, the UK retail industry is facing a separate complex issue, increased demand for products.
  • An example is the sharp rise in demand for toilet papers and hand sanitizers at retail outlets. WEPA UK, the largest manufacturer of toilet papers in the UK, reports having "seen a "large spike in demand" for toilet paper" due to the coronavirus situation in the country.
  • The surge in hand sanitizer sales "has led to shortages and the introduction of rationing" across UK retail outlets like supermarkets and chemists.
  • Tesco UK has introduced a limit of five items on several disaster goods, including dry pasta, UHT milk, tins of baked beans, medicines like Calpol, and hand sanitizers as the products are in high demand.

Stores Lockdown and Employee Layoffs

  • Apple, Nike, Primark, and many more stores have closed their "doors en masse to stop the spread of infection in the U.K."
  • Primark estimates a loss of about £650m in net sales a month, due to the closures, leading to a layoff of about 37,000 staffs.
  • Mcdonald's has closed its stores in the UK after "figures published by Springboard revealed a 21.7% collapse in visits to the shops" due to the pandemic.
  • The fast-food restaurant said that the decline in visits "was three times greater than the worst ever recorded as shoppers hunted essentials only amid growing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19."
  • Laura Ashley's 70 stores out of the 147 outlets in the region were permanently closed, leading to the loss of 721 jobs, as "efforts to secure a buyer were hampered by the COVID-19 outbreak."
  • Nando, the chicken restaurant chain, also announced it was closing over 400 of its outlets in the UK temporarily, saying "the health and safety of our customers and team is our highest priority."
  • H&M closed all its stores in the UK and is looking into ways to cut costs, including temporarily laying off and terminating some employees.
  • The government has released over £400 billion to help high street retail brands to balance revenue issues and staff costs, "freeze business rates and assist with employee sick pay."

Shifts In Consumer Behavior As E-commerce Rise

  • Research by GlobalWebIndex reveals that 75% and 90% of Baby Boomers and Gen Z consumers "have actively, and rapidly, changed their day-to-day lifestyle," as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Retail Economic's survey of UK consumers, shortly before the lockdown, showed that at least 45% "would look to buy online" to avoid Coronavirus panic.
  • Those at high risk of infection, consumers over 60 years of age, are also changing their buying behavior. Nearly 85% agreed to avoid shopping centers and malls, "with ages 45-60 following closely behind at 79.3 percent and Gen Z rising to 67.8 percent."
  • Nielsen predicts that UK consumers will continue shopping online following lengthy quarantine, and this could eventually change their view of retail entirely.
  • The COVID-19 outbreak in the UK is also opening new opportunities in retail e-commerce "while simultaneously placing it under extreme pressure."
  • The healthcare retail segment in the country is witnessing "a 27 percent rise in site traffic as people look to protect themselves above all else."
  • However, the sports equipment retail segment faced a 27% decrease in site traffic as people seek for essentials, while "online grocery shopping rose 20 percent in a week and the ‘adult luxury items’ category rose 35%, "hinting at a whole new baby boom on the horizon."
  • According to Contentsquare, tech retailers "are facing a rise in demand — 12.7 percent in the first week of COVID-19 outbreaks — as more and more people opt to work from home."

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  • "some hotels in London and the UK are to close their doors. Those that are part of a chain, especially those in larger towns and cities can potentially take those decisions more easily than others. To shut some within the brand but to leave one or two hotels open makes a lot of sense, but not many hotels have the luxury of a partner property in close enough proximity."
  • "The vast majority of hotels are closing public bars and restaurants and only opening to serve food and drinks to their residents. Meeting and events space are echoing with silence. Most hotels seem to be continuing to keep the bedrooms functioning until they are instructed to do something different by the Government. However, they are often running on a skeleton staff."
  • " Hoteliers are looking for an alternative use for their empty bedrooms. Over a month ago LGH's Holiday Inn near Heathrow hit the headlines as the Government commandeered it for possible use as a quarantine zone for people entering the country who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Rob Paterson of Best Western was one of the first to make a public announcement to offer hotel rooms to the NHS. There are of course also high profile hoteliers like Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs who are offering their rooms up to the NHS while valiantly keeping on their staff."
  • "should avoid pubs, restaurants, hotels, theatres and other hospitality and leisure businesses, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls said: “This is catastrophic for businesses and jobs."
  • "The government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support, and this announcement will lead to thousands of businesses closing their doors for good, and hundreds of thousands of job losses."
  • "Over the past few weeks the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many business are already on their knees. "
  • "U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson advises citizens to avoid gatherings and all non-essential travel"
  • "Uk Hotels and offices will be converted into emergency safe spaces under a national action plan drawn up by Tony Blair’s former homelessness expert, to protect rough sleepers from coronavirus."
  • "Empty hotels have been pinpointed as a ready-made solution because they have separate cleaning facilities and rooms, and can be leased by the government using funding allocated to tackle the coronavirus pandemic."
  • "The most recent data and reports from many across our industry is that hotel bookings are down significantly and restaurants similarly."
  • "hotel occupancy has (recently) fallen 15% while eating and drinking out has declined by 7%. The trade body has also warned that forward bookings across hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars has fallen by up to 50%.”"
  • "UK hotels have seen a 15 per cent drop in bookings in a week as tourist numbers fall due to coronavirus fears."
  • "The UK travel and tourism industry is bracing for the impact of Covid-19 as a leading industry body said the global pandemic could cost 50m travel jobs around the world and as British Airways warned the virus is creating an unprecedented crisis."
  • "major UK attractions including the Tower of London remained open on Friday, airlines including British Airways and easyJet have curtailed flights and cruise ship firm Princess Cruises has suspended operations for 60 days."
  • " the travel company for the over-50s, has cancelled its cruise sailings until May after the Government said people over 70 should avoid cruises. It said it will be offering customers a full refund or credit for future sailings in a move that will result in a loss in £10m to £15m in pre-tax profits for its cruise business and it would take additional action including cost-cutting if necessary."
  • "UKHospitality, which represents 700 businesses, said hotel occupancy has already fallen by 15 percent, while eating and drinking out has declined by seven percent. It wrote to Boris Johnson ahead of the Budget calling for urgent help, with forward bookings for hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars have fallen by up to 50 percent."
  • "UKinbound recognises the huge challenges that are currently facing the UK travel and tourism industry (and the travel industry around the world) due to the impact of COVID-19. These are desperate times for many businesses with increasing numbers of international and domestic visitors cancelling or postponing their trips at very short notice due to factors outside of their control."
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  • "UK airline bosses are calling for an immediate multibillion-pound emergency bailout to prevent the industry potentially being wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. UK airline bosses are calling for an immediate multibillion-pound emergency bailout to prevent the industry potentially being wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic."
  • "The UK showed a 63% decline in year-over-year flight bookings last week, down from 37% the previous week. This is significantly down but less so than other countries in Europe. We expect we may see this downward trend increasing given the government updates and expected heightened restrictions in the UK. "
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