With less than a month to go before hospitality starts to resume trading, there are signs of a widespread determination amongst consumers to get back to restaurants, pubs and bars... even if it means sitting outside. That's according to the latest research from CGA, a data and research consultancy for the 'out-of-home' food and drink market. CGA's 'Consumer Countdown to Reopening Series' is comprised of four key reports which draws upon CGA’s latest consumer research and a special additional survey to uncover consumers’ attitudes and help businesses plan for outdoor reopening in England from 12 April. The first of these reports finds that three in four (76%) consumers are likely to visit a venue with outdoor seating within a month of reopening. A third (33%) plan to get back within a week, and 12% intend to return on the first day they can.
That leaves a quarter (24%) of consumers who aren’t likely to return until at least 17 May, when venues can trade inside again. This group seem to be put-off, in almost equal measure, by not wishing to sit outside (40%) and wanting to avoid crowds (39%). However, the majority plan to return either when indoor seating is becomes available again (21%) or when eating and drinking out feels normal again (59%). By June, four in five (81%) consumers in England reported that they are likely to be 'back in the market'.
However, 41% of those not returning before mid-May said that they do not plan to visit venues for a long time yet. This acts as a stark reminder that, despite the widespread vaccine roll-ours, hospitality and foodservice venues will still have a significant amount of work to do in order to successfully persuade and reassure guests over safety concerns. Successfully managing bookings adhering strictly to hygiene and social distancing protocols will be vitally important for venues looking to entice back cautious customers.
The success of outside openings may also be largely affected by the notoriously unreliable British weather, as well as the use that operators can make of their outdoor space. RISE, CGA’s outlet and location targeting tool, can help identify outside trading opportunities,and suggests around two in five sites in England have some outdoor space that could host guests.
Rachel Weller, CGA’s head of consumer research and marketing commented "It’s very encouraging to see that so many consumers are keen to get back to hospitality, and willing to sit outside so they can do so. Businesses that can meet the needs of these outdoor eaters and drinkers should get a useful kick-start to sales ahead of fuller reopening in May. Just as importantly, these five weeks provide an excellent chance to reassure all consumers that it is safe to eat and drink out again.”
The 'Consumer Countdown to Reopening' data also reveals extremely similar patterns of consumer sentiment in Scotland, where hospitality operators are working to a provisional reopening date of 26 April, two weeks later than England. There are also frustrations about Scotland’s delay, with a quarter (24%) of Scottish consumers believing the approach will ease restrictions too slowly, compared to only 16% in England.
CGA’s next three 'Consumer Countdown to Reopening' reports will focus on consumers’ behavioural shifts as venues reopen, assess competing demands on spending, and uncover the factors behind successful visits in the new-look market.
For more information on CGA visit https://www.cga.co.uk/
To download the first report visit https://info.cga.co.uk/consumer-countdown-to-reopening-part1