The impact of continuing staff shortages in the Scottish hospitality trade was writ large in the findings of a new survey published today.

According to the latest snapshot poll from the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, 68% of outlets are under-staffed and 72% are struggling to fill vacancies.

The reasons behind the shortfall are numerous, with Brexit, pandemic effects and moves by people to change their lifestyles – in favour of more sociable working hours - all playing a part. But regardless of the causes, it is feared that a critical lack of staff is affecting people who work in the industry today, because of the extra pressure it brings, and its ability to thrive in the future.

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“That is what worries me,” said Paul Waterson, spokesman for the SLTA, in an interview with The Herald today. “We are not going to be attractive to the young entrepreneurial guys who are going to take us forward.”

Unfortunately for the Scottish pub trade, a shortage of staff is not its only problem. Costs continue to be real headache, trading remains below pre-pandemic levels for nearly 60% of operators, and almost 70% are expecting further economic decline.

In these circumstances, it was no surprise that the SLTA survey found that as much as 9% of businesses said they are planning to close or consider their options.

What, then, can be done to alleviate the pressure? On this point the SLTA is clear. If costs continue to rise and turnover moves in the other direction, some help from government is essential, be in the form of a cut to value-added tax or relief from business rates.

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“In previous surveys we warned that it wouldn’t be economically viable for many outlets to remain open, and we are now seeing this come to fruition with a worrying 9% of outlets either planning to close or considering options,” Mr Waterson said.

“Scotland’s pubs and bars face a continued barrage of economic challenges, and we call on the UK and Scottish governments to assist us in dealing with these challenges.”