A third of restaurant and pub bosses have said they expect to permanently close sites as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey of more than 120 senior executives for pub, bar and restaurant companies revealed that 32% said they anticipated the need to shutter sites for good.
The CGA business confidence survey, which was conducted with technology specialists Fourth, also revealed that bosses in the sector remain “deeply pessimistic” about the future of the hospitality market and their own businesses.
Only 36% of leaders said they believe they will eventually re-open all of their sites for trading, according to the survey.
“The size and shape of the eating and drinking out market is projected to look very different post-lockdown,” said Karl Chessell, director of food and retail at CGA.
“The offer will inevitably change as leaders have to change their operating model to thrive once they open their doors again.”
The vast majority, 81%, of operators in the sector said they have now started recovery planning.
Most businesses will be starting recovery from scratch, as only 27% of those surveyed said they had any sites still open.
More optimistically, two thirds of bosses said they believe it will take them less than two weeks to get their sites ready to trade after lockdown is lifted.
James England, senior vice president at Fourth, said: “With great swathes of workers on the job retention scheme, businesses are focused on driving engagement with their teams, supporting health and wellbeing and retaining the best workers.
“Social distancing and the fallout from the pandemic will demand that businesses take a fresh look at their operating models and, of course, labour productivity and increased automation.
“Ultimately, hospitality’s post-Covid-19 complexion will look fundamentally different to the start of 2020, but we are a resilient industry that will evolve, adapt, innovate and overcome the challenges presented.”