Consumers are returning cautiously to hospitality, but rigorous safety measures, industry collaboration and government support can all speed the sector along the road to recovery.
Those are among the messages from a special new edition in the Future Shock series of reports from CGA and UKHospitality. It presents the most detailed picture yet of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on hospitality, and identifies what the industry can do to recover sales and consumer confidence.
The report pools CGA and UKHospitality’s latest authoritative data from the industry, highlighting that the hospitality sector accounted for a third of the UK’s entire drop in GDP in March and April, and that only one in six (16%) leaders are optimistic about the prospects of the market in the next 12 months. It also outlines the size of the challenge to bring people back to hospitality, with a quarter (23%) of consumers only returning to venues with caution, and a third (33%) only doing so if they are sure that added precautions were in place.
But the report also identifies green shoots of recovery, and celebrates the success of UKHospitality’s efforts to lobby for government support for the sector. It uses insights from CGA’s research in China and the US to predict crucial changes in consumer habits that are likely to shape the hospitality market in the next few months. They include an increasing desire to use local venues rather than travel to city centres, a new preference for booking ahead, and an emerging polarisation between the value and premium ends of the market.
As well as exclusive research from CGA and views from UKHospitality, Future Shock features insights from report partners Alpha Rewards, Britvic, Molson Coors, OrderPay and Sector Associates, exploring ways for operators to rebuild and strengthen their businesses after lockdown.
Karl Chessell, Business Unit Director, Retail and Food at CGA, says: “The last four months has been the most difficult period of trading that most of us in the industry have ever seen. CGA’s data shows how the pandemic caused a sudden and dramatic downturn in sales and had a seismic effect on consumer behaviour, and the big question now is how quickly the market can recover. There are clearly many tough challenges ahead, but with the backing of consumers and the right support from government, businesses can not just survive the pandemic but thrive in the happier times that lie ahead.”
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at UKHospitality, says: “There is still a huge amount of graft to be done if we are to make it through this crisis in one piece, but if any sector can emerge stronger it is hospitality. We have pushed – and will continue to push – hard to persuade UK governments to provide as much support as possible to keep businesses afloat and jobs secure, and have done everything we can to help pave the way for recovery. We have all faced up to some difficult truths and learned some valuable lessons, and we’re pleased to be able to share much of that insight and expertise in this edition of Future Shock.”