Hospitality trade badly hit by Tube strike, reports payments firm


London Underground strike

Bars, pubs and restaurants were among the hardest hit by this week’s London Underground strike, according to payments processing company Worldpay.

The company, which handles 44% of all card payments made in Britain, reported that its data showed transactions were down 20% compared to an average Thursday across London’s hospitality sector.

The 24-hour strike by four unions began on Wednesday evening in a dispute over all-night weekend Tube services which are due to start next month.

James Frost, UK chief marketing officer of Worldpay, said: “It’s not just commuters that have struggled these past two days. London’s shops, bars and restaurants will take, on average, 20% fewer transactions during Thursday’s strike action.

“Across areas like Covent Garden, usually teeming with workers, spend will be down as much as £150,000. And we’re seeing that pattern right across London where the total could run into millions due to people cancelling plans and heading home to beat the strike, or even avoiding the capital altogether.

“It’s hard for food and drink outlets to prepare for these scenarios, but with the weather forecast looking bright, the hospitality trade will be keen to maximise takings from the expected influx of visitors to the capital over the weekend.”

This week’s action followed the first 24-hour strike on July 8 and 9. Talks between the unions and London Underground are due to continue next week to avert further walkouts.

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of The British Hospitality Association, said: “London’s economy is heavily reliant on its fast and reliable public transport network to move around the capital’s residents, tourists and visitors.

“Strike action especially during busy summer months is a real nightmare for our hotel, restaurant and visitor attraction members who have to maintain high standards while facing the staff shortages and unpredictable customer footfall resulting from the transport challenges.

“London needs the new round-the-clock tube service on weekends as soon as possible: it is essential to keep up with global cities like New York and Berlin, and to support London’s 24-hour lifestyle. The unions should call off their strike action and allow London to continue to welcome visitors with open arms.

“According to latest figures, online searches for hotels and accommodation in London fell by almost a quarter during the last Tube strike action and we expect this to be the case again.

“We hope that trade union leaders will be able to avoid further strike action in the future so our members can continue to welcome guests uninterrupted and to protect London’s place as the top destination in the world.”

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