The number of night workers in the UK has fallen by more than 700,000 in the past five years, in recent signs of pressure on sectors such as nightclubs, bars and restaurants under siege, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the number of night workers fell by 723,000 to 8.7 million in 2022.
This has increased compared to the 8.6 million in 2021 that were hit hard by the pandemic as restrictions hit many hospitality companies a hammer blow.
But the number of night workers has still not returned to pre-Covid levels, which fell from 9.3 million in 2019 and drastically dropped to 9.5 million, the latest peak seen in 2016.
ONS data also shows that the proportion of night workers in the UK has dropped from 30.8% in 2014 to 26.7% in 2022.
It comes after AlixPartners and the CGA’s most recent accommodation market watchdog last week said more than a third of nightclubs have been closed since before the pandemic, as the industry has been particularly badly hit by the long lockdown and Covid restrictions.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “The pandemic has seen a significant portion of the workforce seek other roles, some in entirely different industries, as changing measures and lockdowns come into play.
“But when we reopened the doors in July 2021, we had a hard time regaining our confidence in the workforce due to the uncertainty of future impacts on the industry.”
He added that the figures in the CGA report “clearly highlight the contraction of the industry and the total number of licensed facilities in the UK is expected to fall below 100,000 in the coming months”.
“Independent businesses, 13.3% smaller than in 2020, took the hardest hit, and managed businesses decreased by 3.6%.”
ONS data also shows how dependent the night industry is on workers born outside the UK.
Between 2012 and 2022, the number of night workers born outside the UK increased by 32.6% to two million; In the 24-hour health and personal services sectors group, this number increased by 69.1% to 500,000 million.
However, wages in the sector continue to be the focus of attention. ONS said that 15.1% of workers in the night industries worked in low-paying roles last year, compared to 10.5% of workers as a whole.
This figure rises to 38.5% in nighttime cultural and leisure activities including restaurants, bars and entertainment activities.