College bar revenues plummet as lockdown bites

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College bars across Durham City counted the cost of lockdown last year as revenues fell by over £500,000 compared with the last academic year and year-on-year profits fell by £60,000.

All college bars closed as a result of government Covid-19 restrictions from March 2020 for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year.

Profits were badly hit at St. Cuthbert’s Society bar, which went from a profit of £12,000 to a loss of over £13,000.

Amongst the worst hit was University College’s bar, The Undie, who’s revenue fell by £126,500 compared with the previous academic year. Profits were badly hit at St. Cuthbert’s Society bar, which went from a profit of £12,000 to a loss of over £13,000. Josephine Butler, St Mary’s and Trevelyan College bars also saw substantial drops in profitability.

A few colleges have bucked the trend, most notably Hild Bede College bar, which went from a £12,500 loss to a £8,000 profit. Grey College bar’s revenues appear to have been barely affected by the lockdown. Ustinov bar’s losses fell by £22,000 between 2018/19 and 2019/20 but the bar has been haemorrhaging money, having lost over £150,000 over the past two years.

College bars in more usual times served as a communal gathering point at the heart of college social life. The distinct character of each bar not only earned the endearment of each college’s students but also attracted crowds from other colleges partaking in the ever popular bar crawls.

Easter Term played host to many balls and college days that coincided with the end of examinations and considerably boosted bar revenues. But the exodus of students and the implementation of the first lockdown restrictions prevented this last academic year.

Government restrictions in the wake of the first wave of Covid-19 resulted in the closure of almost good causes all hospitality venues across the UK. Sales from pubs and bars across the UK fell by £53.2bn in the 12 months to September 2020 compared with the previous year according to a report by UK Hospitality and CGA.

This substantial loss of income has resulted in concerns for the future of many hospitality venues.

Image: Beatrice

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