Restrictions hit confidence and planning

The Eat Out to Help Out campaign has drawn consumers back to restaurants, reassured them about their safety and tempted them to try new venues.

New government limits on social gatherings have quickly damaged the confidence and plans of consumers to eat and drink out, a snap poll from CGA reveals.

The ban on meetings of more than six people from Monday (14 September) has left nearly a third (31%) feeling less confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants. Just 4% said the new measures had lifted their confidence.

CGA’s Consumer Pulse survey also found that well over half (59%) of consumers who were intending to go out had cancelled plans or would not be making new ones in the future. Around one in seven (15%) of all consumers said they would alter their plans to observe the new regulations, while one in ten (10%) intends to go ahead with their visits regardless.

The survey reveals divided opinions on the new restrictions. Two in five (43%) respondents think they are the right course of action, while a quarter (23%) think they are too drastic. Slightly more (29%) think the government is still not doing enough to control the pandemic.

The poll also indicates a generational split in attitudes. Older consumers are much more likely than average to feel less confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants in light of the fresh restrictions, while younger adults are more likely to press on with their plans to go out.

This research really highlights the fragility of consumer confidence at the moment,” said Hannah Payne, Consumer Research Manager at CGA. “The new restrictions come just as restaurants and pubs were enjoying strong momentum from the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and they are a warning if it were needed that the road back to normality in the out-of-home sector is going to be very bumpy.”

“Many consumers will now be cancelling or changing their plans, and the restrictions increase the pressure on operators to show guests that they can eat and drink out safely. Understanding their anxieties and demonstrating rigorous precautions without compromising the experience of going out for a meal or drinks will be absolutely crucial over the autumn.”

Guests at CGA’s ‘Redefining the out-of-home experience’ webinar on Thursday (10 September) agreed that the restrictions would impact businesses that depend on group visits, especially in the run-up to Christmas if they are sustained. “It’s a reminder that this isn’t over,” said Alex Reilley, Chairman of Loungers. “There’s an argument that we were getting a bit too relaxed as a country… clearly we’ve got to be very careful, and the sector needs to play its part.”

The Consumer Pulse data is based on a survey of 500 British adults, nationally representative of the out-of-home visitor based on age. It was carried out on Thursday (10 September).

To learn how CGA’s Consumer Pulse and other research can provide crucial insights into consumers’ fast-changing sentiment and attitudes to the out-of-home sector, contact Charlie Mitchell at


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