Consumers are eager to eat out again and most feel confident about doing so, CGA’s consumer research shows as England prepares to exit lockdown.

CGA’s Consumer Pulse poll in mid-November indicates that nearly two thirds (62%) of consumers in England plan to eat at restaurants when they reopen, with around four in five of these people feeling confident enough to visit immediately. More than half (55%) of consumers say they feel safer in hospitality venues than in shops and supermarkets—and after a bumper last week of food sales before England’s latest lockdown, there will be hopes for a similarly strong return next week.

England’s wave of reopenings could cement restaurants as the most-used out-of-home venues. CGA’s BrandTrack data from October shows that nearly two thirds (64%) of consumers in Britain had visited a restaurant since the end of the first national lockdown in July—making them more popular than pubs (58%) and cafés and coffee shops (52%).

England’s tiered restrictions, which in many areas will bar sales of alcoholic drinks unless they are with a substantial meal, may prompt more consumers to combine eating and drinking-out visits next week. Pubs have already seen an increase in the number of people visiting for food-led occasions to 66%, compared to 34% visiting solely for drinks, BrandTrack shows.

The survey also suggests limits on selling alcohol could prompt people to spend more on it while eating—presenting operators with a chance to sustain drinks sales. More than a third (38%) say that if alcoholic drinks are only available with food then they will order more—and a similar proportion (37%) predict that they will order food so they can have a drink.

There are a lot of unknowns as England emerges from lockdown, but with drinking-out so heavily restricted in many areas, we may well see a shift towards food-led occasions,” says CGA’s research and insight director Charlie Mitchell.

“Trading constraints will be very challenging, at a time of year when pubs would expect to be packed with celebratory drinkers. But for operators that can pivot towards food, with a compelling drinks range alongside, there is still the chance to salvage sales in December. Whatever the offer, the execution and communication of safety measures will be of paramount importance in reassuring consumers who are hesitant about going out that they can have a safe as well as happy time.”

To learn how CGA’s BrandTrack and Consumer Pulse research can provide crucial insights into consumers’ fast-changing sentiment and attitudes to the out-of-home sector, contact Charlie Mitchell at charlie.mitchell@cga.co.uk

     

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