‘Not good’: Wetherspoon warns of menu price hike as lockdown eases – ‘mixed feelings’

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The hospitality VAT cut saw Wetherspoon slash the price of its food, coffee and soft drinks last year. However, if not extended, the chain has said it will have to hike the menu prices back up.

At the time of the VAT cut, JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “Wetherspoon will invest all the proceeds of the VAT reduction in lower prices, spread across both bar and food products, with the biggest reductions on ale.

“Wetherspoon has campaigned for tax equality between pubs, restaurants and supermarkets for many years

“Supermarkets pay no VAT on food sales and pubs pay 20 percent.

“A VAT reduction will help pubs and restaurants reverse this trend – creating more jobs, helping high streets and eventually generating more tax income for the Government.”

However, Wetherspoon has warned the price of food across all its pubs will increase later this year when the VAT cut comes to an end.

The increase will see customers pay around 40p more for a meal.

The chain has also seen a fall in sales despite lockdown measures being lifted. 

Currently, six restaurants still remain closed, but a huge 850 across the country are now open.

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The company said: “The Chancellor reduced VAT on food for the hospitality industry to five percent last year, still above the rate paid by supermarkets, which was nonetheless welcome.

“However, it is now proposed that VAT returns to 20 percent, in stages, in the next year.

“The interim rise to VAT of 12.5 percent will result in Wetherspoon having to increase food prices by around 40p per meal.”

Wetherspoon has also said it has opened two new pubs in the last six months, with plans to open a further 18 new sites.

Once current projects are completed, it plans to invest around £750million on opening or enlarging current pubs.

The company has said it “may result in the creation of around 20,000 jobs”.

Taking to Twitter to share their thoughts on the news, customers shared mixed feelings about the price hike.

One person said: “This is not good news.”

Another wrote: “I have mixed feelings about Wetherspoon, they have low prices anyway so what is a slight increase?”

A third commented: “No problem there, they helped customers last year, we can help them this year.”

It comes less than two weeks before it is hoped the fourth stage of lockdown easing will go ahead.

The rules could see face masks being dropped while in restaurants as well as the return of bar-ordering.

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