Britain’s biggest supermarket is encouraging customers to “give Tesco a miss today” as the hospitality sector reopens following almost a year of Covid restrictions.
The grocer, which recorded an annual turnover of £53billion last year as pubs closed their doors, said shoppers should “pop in” if they can as non-essential businesses reopen in England.
It comes as thousands were pictured outside pubs in the early hours on Monday as boozers returned to business following months of losses.
“Today is a huge day as many pubs re-open after an incredibly difficult year,” the grocer said.
“To support, we're using our ad spend to encourage the nation to give Tesco a miss in favour of a visit to the pub. We urge our customers to head to their local for a drink or a bite to eat with friends and family if they can."
Food retailers have remained open throughout the Covid pandemic with Tesco alone admitting sales are up £1.3billion year-on-year.
However, while supermarket sales have rocketed, UK restaurants and casual dining firms recorded almost 30,000 job losses in 2020 as the crisis drove a 163% jump in redundancies.
Data compiled by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) revealed that 29,684 jobs were lost across fine dining, independent businesses and large multiple casual-dining chains during the year.
It represents a sharp increase from 2019, when 11,280 job losses were reported across the sector, after firms were hit by two national lockdowns, local lockdown restrictions, curfews, changes to service rules and recently strengthened tier measures.
The CRR said closures at Pizza Express, SSP Group, Casual Dining Group, The Restaurant Group and Mitchells & Butlers have contributed to huge unemployment in the sector.
Pub chains say the government should reduce tax to help businesses get back on their feet.
Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin said the chain sunk to a loss before tax of £105.4million last year.
The boss of JD Wetherspoon has attacked the government's Covid restrictions, as he warned they have pushed hospitality firms into "colossal debt".
The pub boss said that pubs have an unfair advantage against supermarkets which pay "virtually no VAT".
"Supermarkets pay virtually no VAT in respect of food sales, whereas pubs pay 20%," the statement said.
"This has enabled supermarkets to subsidise the price of alcoholic drinks, widening the price gap, to the detriment of pubs and restaurants."
The chain alleges that pubs have lost 50% of their beer sales to supermarkets in the last 35 years.
"Pubs also pay around 20 pence a pint in business rates, whereas supermarkets pay only about 2 pence, creating further inequality," he added.
The Wetherspoon chairman said that more revenue and jobs would be created if there was "more tax equality".
Martin has also called on Chancellor, Rishi Sunak to make the current VAT cut permanent.
"If the chancellor decides to make these VAT reductions permanent, the company intends to retain these lower prices indefinitely."
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