In Focus
RESEARCH | Staff Reporter, UK

Spending during first week of reopening higher compared to initial lockdown: CGA

Nearly half of consumers have already returned to venues.

Despite being limited to outdoor service, hospitality venues that were able to open in England in the seven days from 12 April enjoyed a stronger bounce in sales than compared to after the first national lockdown in July 2020.

New data from CGA shows that like-for-like sales at pubs, bars and restaurants that were trading in that week were 45% higher than in the week from 4 July 2020, a period when they were able to resume both inside and outdoor service.

Like-for-like sales at venues that were open in the said period were down 21% compared to the equivalent week in 2019, though that period did include the Easter weekend. When compared to the previous week in April 2019, like-for-like sales were 1% higher.

Earlier data from CGA and Alix Partners’ Market Recovery Monitor noted that just 23% of England’s licensed premises welcomed guests during that week.

“Pent-up demand from consumers to get back out into pubs, bars and restaurants is clear and the first visit fear that many had in July last year is now playing less of a role in their decision to do so,” said Jonny Jones, CGA’s managing director for UK & Ireland.

“However, with less than a quarter of outlets in England accepting guests last week, this demand has been spread over fewer venues which is driving performance for those that have reopened. So, whilst this is a good start for the sector, it’s clear that hospitality’s recovery still has a very long way to go.”

Drinks sales in trading venues on the week of 12 April were 49% higher than in the reopening week of July 2020, whilst food sales were up 34%. The first day of trading saw like-for-like drinks sales more than double that of the second Monday of April 2019, attributed to consumers having “enthusiastically celebrated” the reopening of pubs and bars.

Comparative sales eased in subsequent days but across the week, CGA said they were 10% higher than the comparable week of April 2019.

“For any semblance of widespread viability to return to the sector, it is crucial that the Government delivers on its commitment to dropping all restrictions from 21 June. If that milestone lapses, then the Government will need to be poised to provide further support for the sector—an investment that would be fully justified, given our ability to drive economic recovery,” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said.

Nearly half of consumers in England back in venues
A separate Consumer Pulse survey from CGA also found that 44% of adults have visited the hospitality sector since 12 April, which is nine percentage points higher than the 35% of consumers who returned in the first ten days of reopening after the end of England’s first national lockdown in July 2020.

More than two in five respondents (42%) say they would have gone out more in the said period if they thought they would be able to get a table without a reservation. Among those who have not yet been back, nearly a third (31%) say it is because they do not want to sit outside.

Non-returners are either waiting for indoor seating to become available (16%) or for safety measures to end completely (12%), CGA added.

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