France’s consumers set to spend in restaurants when inside trading returns

New CGA research shows appetite for eating and drinking out remains high, though some consumers show caution returning to certain venues

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New research from leading analysts CGA reveals consumers are ready to make a confident return to more formal dining venues when they open their doors for inside service.

 

CGA’s survey of around 1,000 consumers in France shows more than two in three (69%) are looking forward to going out for a meal after hospitality venues are able to welcome guests inside again from 9 June. This compares to going on a bar crawl (10%) or attending a large event (18%). Well over a quarter (29%) plan to spend more than they usually would on eating and drinking out, putting the sector second on consumers’ list of priorities for extra spending, behind only domestic travel.

 

CGA’s Volume Pool research meanwhile shows the importance of the restaurant market to the drinks business in particular. Restaurants accounted for well over a third (38%) of all total drinks sales by volume in 2020, an increase of nearly two percentage points on 2019. Recovery following the 1st lockdown was equally strong as total drinks volume from June to September reached 82% of that during the same period in 2019, with the spirits category alone performing best recouping in excess of 93%.

 

There are also signs that COVID-19 has brought about significant changes to the restaurant landscape with almost 23% fewer outlets operational between March and December last year compared to 2019. The return of indoor trading will be most welcome for formal dining venues and consumers; however restrictions and space constraints may delay reopening or make it unviable for some outlets.

 

Some consumers will remain cautious about safety when indoor service resumes, especially in large and crowded venues. Just over a third (36%) say feeling safe will be a contributing factor to their enjoyment, while 85% want to meet in small groups.

 

Graeme Loudon, CGA managing director EMEA and APAC, said: “Consumers in France have obviously missed their restaurants over the many months of enforced closures, and it is encouraging to see signs of a release of spending this summer. However, COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on the confidence of both consumers and businesses. The landscape of eating and drinking out in June will be very different to before COVID-19, and operators and suppliers will need to work together to understand exactly what has changed and how to respond.”

 

CGA’s research also confirms consumers’ preference for personal service in restaurants. Fewer than three in ten (28%) consumers consider being able to use technology to order food and drink will contribute to a good experience—significantly lower than the comparable figure in the UK (43%), and in other countries including Belgium and Germany (both 35%).

 

Graeme Loudon adds: “The challenge for restaurants is to find ways to retain the personal touch of face-to-face service while reassuring consumers that it is safe to eat and drink out again.”

CGA is providing further insights into France’s On Premise as it prepares to reopen to consumers. For more information about CGA’s market measurement and consumer research and how it can help operators and suppliers to optimise sales and marketing strategies, please contact Ben Krzysica at Ben.Krzysica@cgastrategy.com.

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