Worthing and Littlehampton’s traders fear ‘time is running out’ after reopening delay

Hospitality traders are being forced to work with ‘one arm tied behind their back’ while social restrictions remain in place.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 2:54 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 2:56 pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday that next week’s planned easing of restrictions would be pushed back by four weeks to July 19.

Businesses had been looking forward to operating at full capacity for the first time in months, but instead lose vital trading time in the busy summer months.

Andy Sparsis, whose Proto group owns restaurants in Worthing and Littlehampton, said time is running out for traders.

Warwick Street, Worthing SUS-210405-155508001

“Worthing and Littlehampton’s hospitality sectors are delighted to have been able to open and it is great to see everyone looking so busy,” he said.

“Unfortunately bars, restaurants and cafés looking so busy is a false marker on how well the industry is doing locally. No businesses are able to run at full capacity or able to employ enough staff to return to their normal pre-pandemic trading.

“Coupled with massive debts incurred from rent arrears, deferred VAT payments and the end of government support schemes, trading going forward will certainly feel like businesses have one arm tied behind their back.

“The heavy debt would have been reduced if businesses were able to open fully from June 21.”

Mr Sparsis commended the ‘excitement and energy’ that had gone into reopening businesses, but said time was running out for businesses to be able to trade profitably.

“A couple of summer months of good trade will unfortunately not save enough businesses from getting through the difficult months of October through to next January,” he said.

On Monday, the prime minister said the decision to delay opening would be reviewed after two weeks and, while he was ‘confident’ restrictions could be lifted by July 19, did not rule out maintaining them longer.