The ongoing Coronavirus shutdown means cashflow concerns continue to be top of the agenda, with rent singled out specifically as the number one issue.
Although immediate survival is the top priority, many operators are tentatively developing recovery plans, but with predictions of returning to vastly contracted market.
The poll, which surveyed more than 120 senior executives and entrepreneurs from across the eating and drinking-out sector, found that market optimism had plummeted from 60% in February - a four-year high - to just 5%.
Rent payments and landlord agreements were picked out by 40% of business leaders as the greatest challenge currently faced by the industry, with a further 27% seeing them as a ‘major challenge’.
Together they topped the list of business challenges, with access to loans the next big worry.
When asked the question of what would be the best next measure the Government could introduce to support their business, 70% went for a nine-month rent-free period to December.
A nine month rent-free period forms the crux of the #NationalTimeOut campaign currently being led by London Union’s Jonathan Downey.
Downey’s proposal, which was formally submitted to the Treasury last month, lays out plans for a nine-month rent-free period for hospitality, leisure and retail businesses to provide them with some respite during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Downey is calling for a national rent-free period to push back the next nine months of rent (from April-December), so that nobody pays anything until the first quarter of next year.
To make up for this rent-free period, each corresponding lease would be extended by nine months so that those payments aren’t lost, just postponed.
This will also apply to landlords on their loan repayments, where the debt is secured on premises benefiting from this rent postponement, as part of the proposal.