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Customers return to on-trade quicker than last summer

Published:  23 August, 2021

A total of 56% of consumers visited a hospitality venue in the first 10 days following July’s Freedom Day, according to a new UK Hospitality (UKH) survey, supported by data from CGA, released today.

The number of consumers visiting hospitality in the period marks a much faster return to venues when compared to last summer’s reopening following lockdown when just 35% returned in the same timeframe.

In 2020, it took over six weeks for people to return in similar numbers, according to the research, which also shows that 45% of those who haven’t yet been out plan to do so in the next month, painting a picture of growing consumer confidence when it comes to hospitality experiences.

However the data also shows that thousands of businesses are still struggling compared to pre-pandemic, with UKH warning that the industry remains in a “fragile state” as businesses fight for survival on a number of fronts, not least the critical shortage of staff – the latest ONS data released last week showed UK job vacancies at a record high, with the hospitality sector reporting a 10% vacancy rate, equal to 210,000 roles.

“Eating and drinking out is safe and we encourage everyone to rediscover their favourite venues if they haven’t already,” said Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKH.

“However, while rising customer numbers is welcome news, the hospitality sector is by no means out of the woods," she added.

 “Hospitality venues are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels of revenue with staff shortages hindering their recovery. In order to rebuild, the sector needs the government to put in place a supportive landscape which includes an extension of the business rates holiday until at least October and a permanently lower rate of VAT for the sector,” she said.

Such measures would allow the hospitality sector and the people it supports to “play a full role in the UK’s economic recovery”, added Nicholls.

Data released last week revealed that Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups lifted sales back close to pre-Covid-19 levels in July, with restaurants and bars benefitting the most from the easing of restrictions.