New data reveals almost a quarter of restaurants have struggled with staff shortages

Covid-19 News | Food & Drink | Surveys

Almost a quarter (24%) of restaurants have struggled due to staff absences and an increase in online orders, while a further 13% are concerned about providing their staff with PPE.

A new survey, conducted by City Pantry, shows that restaurants have found it difficult to handle an increase in orders with a significantly reduced workforce and limited PPE resources, as takeaway sales rose 8.7% in the first month of the pandemic alone.

Despite an initial slump in takeaway orders at the start of lockdown, the use of meal-delivery services rose exponentially from mid-April onwards as Brits experienced ‘cooking fatigue’ following months of restaurant closures.

It seems most restaurants were not equipped to deal with this influx and have been struggling to fulfil more orders while navigating staff absences, as almost all (84.7%) of businesses who were concerned about shortages are also using the furlough scheme.

The analysis also reveals that staff absence could have a negative impact on motivation and belonging, as 81% of businesses who reported feeling a lack of sense of community had furloughed staff.

Interestingly, restaurants are 28% more likely to reopen as soon as they are given the go-ahead if they’ve not felt supported by locals during the lockdown, while 40.7% of businesses haven’t noticed an increased sense of community.

Despite this, 53% of businesses who’ve not felt supported will still continue to offer takeaway services moving forward, as more than half (51%) of respondents believe the takeaway industry will continue to grow once lockdown has eased.

As the takeaway industry is projected to grow faster than any other in 2020, it’s vital that restaurant owners prioritise safety when training their remaining workforce, in order to adhere to government guidelines and prevent an increase in infections.

Ben Carter, Managing Director of City Pantry, commented on the findings: “Although the government has released comprehensive guidance for restaurants on how best to operate during the pandemic, it’s vital that each business translates this into specific and achievable actions to ensure staff safety.

“It’s concerning that restaurants are struggling to secure protective equipment while experiencing an increase in orders and it’s essential that these businesses don’t sacrifice staff safety for the sake of managing workload – even if it means turning orders down.

“Restaurants cannot and should not continue to operate until these safety measures are in place, and those that are operational with PPE and an appropriate workforce need to ensure staff stay trained in line with updated government guidance week on week.”

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