A survey of New South Wales hotel operators has shown the extent to which the shutdown and subsequent trading restrictions have impacted revenue at pubs across the state.

An AHA NSW survey conducted last week has put some figures to the adverse affects the shutdown has had on pub turnover, with responses received from members who operate over 300 pubs across the state.

Having been asked “In the first week of the lifted restrictions, what turnover did your hotel/hotel group achieve compared to the same week last year?”, the responses showed that overall across New South Wales pubs there was a 45% decline in turnover, in comparison to the same week in 2019.

The worst hit areas were the Sydney CBD and North Sydney, which saw their revenue decline by an average of 55 percent. These areas rely heavily on tourism and corporate patrons, which have been heavily impacted by travel restrictions and working-from-home policies respectively.

This significant trade loss under restrictions is compounded by the impending end of the JobKeeper program in September, which is currently easing some of the pressure off the largest expense for publicans, at a time when revenue has significantly declined.

With that in mind, the survey-takers suggested that if the current trading restrictions and conditions were still in place when the JobKeeper scheme ended, they would on average have to put off or reduce the hours of 44 per cent of their staff.

Breaking down the numbers

The hit to job security during both the shutdown and trading restrictions has been a key concern for operators and staff alike. Pre-COVID, hotels in New South Wales employed more than 75,000. During the shutdown, only 4584 people retained their roles.

Since the 1 June re-opening, 44,385 people have been re-employed within the state’s hotel for a total of 48,696 staff, leaving a current deficit of more than 26,000 staff who have not resumed their employment.

Of those 48,696 people currently employed in hotels, if operators had to reduce their staff number by 44 per cent at the end of the Jobkeeper program, additional job losses (or a reduction in working hours) are expected to total almost 21,500 people.

“After complete closure it’s great to be partially open, but the reality is hotels have suffered a 45 per cent decline in turnover – and many hotels having been hit even harder than this,” stated AHA NSW CEO John Whelan.

“If hotels can’t trade, they can’t employ staff. The last thing we want to see is the huge lines at Centrelink again when JobKeeper ends.

“The focus needs to be on getting people back to work and have businesses trading again as quickly and as safely as possible.”


AHA NSW Member Survey – First Week Trading Conditions Change in Turnover, 2019-2020 Expected Staff Reduction if JobKeeper Finishes Under Current Trading Conditions Expected Real Job Loss Figure
Overall -45% 44% 21,416
Sydney CBD / North Sydney -55.0% 47.5%
Sydney Suburbs -40.2% 38.7%
Central Coast, Newcastle, Wollongong -37.5% 38.9%
Regional NSW -46.7% 45.5%

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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