This year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival is taking to the streets in support of independent operators that have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. 

Initially scheduled for May, the annual event was postponed due to lockdown. Next month’s rescheduled two-day event can no longer take place indoors, due to current safety restrictions. 

Instead, organiser Lisa Lawson, the founder of Dear Green, has announced plans to transform the festival into a 10-day city-wide celebration of the city’s baristas, roasters and coffee shop owners. A £5 ticket will provide unlimited deals and discounts in independent cafes from October 16-25.

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“Your local coffee shops and roasters have been fuelling your home working whilst fighting their own survival battles,” Ms Lawson said. “Let’s show support to the amazing people behind all of these wonderful local businesses which enrich our communities and boost our local economy by serving and roasting great coffee.” 

Now in its sixth year, the Glasgow Coffee Festival is said to be the first in the world to ban disposable cups when it did so in 2018. Coffee drinkers are being encouraged to swap their visit to a big chain at a “crucial time” for the independent sector, as the furlough scheme upon which most have relied draws to a close at the end of October. 

UK shoppers spent more last month, taking sales further above pre-Covid levels, as strong online demand helped much of the sector rebound faster than the rest of the economy. 

Figures released this morning by the Office for National Statistics show retail sales volumes rose by 0.8 per cent in August. Compared with a year earlier, they were up 2.8%, just below forecasts of 3.0% annual growth. 

Sales had already overtaken pre-Covid levels in July and now stand 4.0% higher than before the crisis, although economists are cautious about what will happen later this year if unemployment rises sharply as forecast.

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Retailers have benefited from fewer British people holidaying abroad this summer, pent-up demand from the lockdown, and a shift to spending on household goods rather than activities outside the home. 

However, the rebound masks a sharp split between online and high-street retailers. Online and mail order sales were up 34.4% on the year in August, while most traditional retailers outside the grocery sector have suffered reduced footfall. 

Far more British businesses than last year are planning to cut recruitment of new staff or freeze hiring entirely during the coming 12 months, according to a new survey by the Confederation of British Industry. 

The annual CBI report, carried out in conjunction with the Pertemps Network Group, showed 51% of companies planned to maintain or increase recruitment next year, while 46% expect a reduction. The net balance of +5 percentage points compares with +56 in last year’s survey.

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“The UK labour market has been under heavy stress since the outset of the Covid-19 crisis and, although the economy has started to re-open, pressure on firms remains acute,” CBI chief policy director Matthew Fell said. 

One in three companies said they planned to implement a pay freeze across all roles, compared to one in 20 in last year’s survey. The figures echo findings earlier this week by the Bank of England which showed that a “large proportion” of companies planned to delay or cancel their annual pay reviews. 

The CBI/Pertemps survey of 248 companies was conducted between August 17 and September 4.