The road to recovery: Seven reasons to be optimistic

CGA client director Mark Jackson joined this week’s ‘Reopening and Recovery’ event, the first in a new All Hands to the Pump series from the Institute of Licensing and Best Bar None, to set the scene for hospitality’s reopening.

He explained that while many challenges remain, there are also reasons to be cautiously confident about the future of the sector. Here are seven.

 

1 Consumers are eager to return

CGA’s Hospitality Consumer Forecast in January found that well over half (59%) of consumers can’t wait to go out again, and 51% hope to get back to venues within a few weeks of their reopening. The Consumer Countdown to Reopening report has shown demand has built up even further in recent weeks, with four in five (81%) consumers now thinking they are likely to have returned to the market by June.

 

2 Heavy demand for outdoor eating and drinking

Reports of heavy demand for pubs and restaurants’ outdoor tables suggests trading could get off to a good start from 12 April. CGA’s research shows that around two in five sites have an outside space from which they could trade, though not all will do so. Much will depend on the great British weather, since sunshine can provide a major boost to drinks sales.

 

3 A treat mentality

Consumers who have saved money over months of lockdown will have cash in their pockets when they return to pubs, bars and restaurants. The Hospitality Consumer Forecast shows that three in five (60%) plan to treat themselves when they go out to eat and drink again—though of course consumers who have been financially hit by the pandemic will be careful with their spending.

 

4 Business confidence rising

Although business confidence is still well below pre-pandemic levels, it is clearly on an upward curve. CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey in partnership with Fourth shows half (51%) are confident about prospects for the sector over the next 12 months—more than triple the number who felt the same way in November (14%).

 

5 New openings continue

Amid all the recent closures in 2020 it was easy to miss the new openings. CGA’s Market Recovery Monitor with AlixPartners indicates that while nearly 12,000 sites closed between December 2019 and January 2021, nearly 4,200 opened their doors for the first time—equivalent to more than ten new launches every day. Three in five (58%) leaders now anticipate opening new sites in 2021, and half (49%) expect new entrants to match or exceed levels seen in 2019.

 

6 Much brighter prospects for the late night sector

The late night segment of the market has been worst hit by the pandemic, and will be the last to reopen. But the Hospitality Consumer Forecast shows that numbers feeling confident about visiting late night bars or clubs has jumped from just 50% in June 2020 to 73% in January 2021. Levels of confidence here are now on a par with other sectors.

 

7 The support of technology

COVID has dramatically accelerated hospitality’s take-up of technology, and 95% of business leaders now regard it is fundamental or important to their reopening plans. Harnessed well, tech will be a big help in easing consumers back into the market after lockdown and making difficult planning decisions labour and stock easier.

 

CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey, Hospitality Consumer Forecast, Consumer Countdown to Reopening series and many other research sources can help every business plan for hospitality’s reopening with confidence. To learn more, contact Mark Jackson at mark.jackson@cga.co.uk.

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