Firms such as hairdressers and restaurants saw cancellations soar last month as potential customers stayed at home amid the accelerating spread of Covid-19.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also highlighted a jump in the number of people working from home after the Government changed guidance in December.
The statistics body said on Thursday that 16% of companies reported “an increase in cancellations from customers over the last month”.
This figure lifted sharply for services companies, including hairdressers and beauty, which saw a 50% increase in cancelled bookings.
16% of businesses reported they had experienced an increase in cancellations from customers over the last month.
Other service activities industry (which includes hairdressers and other beauty services) reported the highest percentage at 50% https://t.co/QNny8eocme
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) January 6, 2022
Accommodation and food service businesses meanwhile saw a 45% increase in cancellations.
It comes after pubs and restaurants reported a sharp increase in cancellations after the Prime Minister announced Plan B restrictions, including guidance for people to work from home where possible, in December.
The change in guidance resulted in 21% of adults working exclusively from home during the three weeks to January 3, rising from 14% over the previous period.
The data also revealed continued pressure on worker numbers, with 15% of firms reporting staff shortages in late December.
This figure was significantly higher, at 35%, for businesses with 10 or more employees and particularly stark in the accommodation and services sector, where 37% of firms saw shortages.
Elsewhere, more than a third of businesses also reported a rise in the price of materials, goods and services compared with normal expectations.