CGA’s poll of consumers this week found that just over half (51%) had been back to the On Premise within ten days of inside service resuming in most of Britain on Monday 17 May. This is a faster return than after the first national lockdown in July 2020, when only 45% of consumers returned during the first three weeks.
Confidence about visiting venues is also notably higher than for some time, having risen by 22 percentage points since January 2021. It follows an easing of fears about COVID infections due to the rollout of vaccines and the extensive efforts of operators to reassure guests about safety. Four in five (80%) consumers say they have felt safe in the On Premise since 17 May—up 12 percentage points on the figure after the 12 April wave of reopening.
With consumers now able to eat inside again, the first ten days of trading has seen a revival of food-led occasions. Half (49%) of those who have been out since 17 May have visited a restaurant—14 percentage points higher than number who did so in the first week of outdoor-only service in mid-April.
This is in line with CGA research showing that outside trading was led by drinking rather than eating occasions. While only 28% of visits during outside-only service were food-led, that number has jumped to 39% since 17 May.
The survey also suggests that consumers’ expectations about quality and value may be nudging up in line with their growing confidence about eating and drinking out. While two in five (43%) say their experiences in the On Premise were better than expected, this is slightly down on the figure after the resumption of outdoor trading. Just over three quarters are satisfied with the price of food (79%), the price of drinks (78%) and the options available (78%).
It’s been good to see many consumers return so quickly when restaurants, pubs and bars opened their doors,” says Rachel Weller, CGA’s director of consumer research and marketing. “However, large parts of the population are going to take their time to go out again, and when they do they are likely to have some high expectations for their experiences. Operators will have to be at the top of their game on safety measures, value and execution if they are to capture the spend of these hesitant and demanding consumer groups.”
CGA’s consumer research sampled 751 nationally representative consumers between Monday and Wednesday (24 to 26 May).
CGA will be closely tracking consumers’ confidence, habits and preferences as the On Premise returns to full trading. To learn more about how the research can support the recovery strategies of both operators and suppliers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.