Tiers the season to be...

…Angry? Restricted? Optimistic? I’m sure there are a fair few adjectives pub and bar operators would like to insert in place of the customary ‘jolly’, but, alas, this magazine isn’t the place to host such profanities (as much as I’d like to offer some creative suggestions of my own).

For the truth is, as I sit here writing the morning after England’s tier allocations were announced, there’s not a lot of jolliness out there. According to UKHospitality, 98% of the UK’s hospitality trade will now take place in tier two and three regions and, should the restrictions last the entire month of December, an estimated £7.8bn worth of trading is set to be wiped out, compared to 2019.

The British Beer & Pub Association said that the tiers will impact over 30,000 pubs, with 16,454 pubs being forced to close within tier three regions. Of the 21,091 pubs that are in regions classified as tier two, 13,920 pubs will either remain closed because they don’t serve substantial meals or will be financially unviable due to the impact on revenue of the additional restrictions, including no household mixing and only serving alcohol with meals. Merry Christmas, everyone.

With this sobering reality concluding what has already been, for the most part, a joyless year, what could Pub & Bar’s December 2020 issue possibly include to offer operators even the smallest tidings of comfort and joy? Well, hopefully the next 50 pages can act as stimulus, inspiration and, most importantly, a reminder of what this industry can deliver… once it is permitted to do so.

Throughout this edition, we’ve done what we can to not only present some ideas around future trading opportunities (Veganuary is on the horizon, people), but also to turn some of the pandemic’s silver linings into great big shining prospects. For example, when takeaway goes back to being an additional revenue stream, as opposed to a venue’s only option, think how far the on-trade will have come in delivering such a service (page 38). And how about William Lees-Jones’ thoughts on enforced table service? “It meant the quality of service went up and staff were running around giving amazing hospitality, rather than looking at their phones and texting their mates. And then they were getting great tips as a result. Everybody wins.” You can read our lead interview with the JW Lees managing director on page 18.

Whichever tier your venues are placed in this month, Pub & Bar is with you every step of the way. We wish the entire UK on-trade every bit of luck over the coming weeks and very much look forward to seeing you all on the other side.

Tristan O’Hana - Editor