Those are among the messages from ‘Survival to Revival’, the eighth edition of the Future Shock series of reports from CGA and UKHospitality.
Research for the report shows the seismic impacts of the pandemic and lockdown on the UK's hospitality sector, including a £53.3bn year-on-year drop in sales between the start of April and the end of September.
Consumer confidence has plummeted, with 78% of British adults concerned about the long-term financial implications of the pandemic.
Business confidence is also hesitant, with 27% of leaders of multi-site groups predicting they will be unviable by mid-2021 with current levels of support.
Released ahead of the Government's recent announcements on the introduction of new Tier 4 restrictions, the report found bleak prospects for Christmas trading, with 98% of England’s licensed premises in severely restricted Tier 2 and 3 areas at the time of publication.
However, the anticipated rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine in the new year provides grounds for cautious optimism going into 2021.
The Future Shock report also celebrates the hard work and achievements of operators and suppliers in 2020, showing that 95% of consumers have been satisfied with the level of hygiene they have found in venues this year, and 55% now say they feel safer in hospitality venues than in shops and supermarkets.
Looking ahead, the report sets out major trends and developments for businesses to track in the year to come including the continuation of the lockdown trend of eating and drinking close to home rather than travelling to city centres, and an increased availability and affordability of property in the wake of business failures.
“This has been the most difficult year in hospitality that most of us have ever known, and our report is a chance to reflect on the havoc it has wrought — but just as importantly to look forward to what we all hope will be a happier 2021," says Karl Chessell, business unit director for retail and food at CGA.
"Sadly there have already been many business casualties in our sector, and more will inevitably follow as a result of the onerous limits on trading and socialising at what should be the busiest time of the year.
"But among businesses that have been able to sustain themselves, the pandemic has instilled a resilience and innovation that will stand them in good stead for years to come.
"The road to recovery clearly has a long way to run yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and at some point in 2021 we can hope for a release in the pent-up demand for all the experiences that people love in hospitality.”
To read the full report, click here.