Are consumers comfortable with eating out yet?

Are consumers comfortable with eating out yet?

New research has revealed that just over a quarter of UK consumers currently feel ‘comfortable’ eating in a restaurant.

The latest EY Future Consumer Index states that although the 54% of people surveyed said it will take months – or longer – before they feel comfortable dining out, comfort levels around eating out in hospitality venues has increased since the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was announced.

In June, only 19% of UK consumers felt comfortable with eating in a restaurant.

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been a welcome intervention which has undoubtedly boosted both revenues and morale across the hospitality sector, but has only been in place for a limited time to a limited effect,” says Christian Mole, EY UK & Ireland head of hospitality and leisure.

“It’s clear it will still take months before the majority of consumers feel comfortable with eating out so it’s not surprising that businesses are calling for an extension to the scheme beyond 31 August.

“While there has been an undoubted benefit from increased summer staycation activity in lieu of overseas trips, the hospitality and leisure sector has significant concerns over the level of likely autumn demand, which risks threatening business viability for some.

“Once the peak summer season and related high leisure traffic is over, many businesses will come under renewed financial pressure, particularly as the furlough scheme comes to an end and tough decisions on headcount need to be made.

“While social distancing measures continue to limit capacity, ongoing government support will be crucial for recovery.

“Continued working from home will mean that take-out and eating-out demand alike in city centres remain at very low levels, and a return to anything like previous commuting levels seems very unlikely in the short-term.

“Decreased levels of business travel and continuing restrictions on inbound tourism are also placing considerable pressure on the hotel sector, and we anticipate a struggle for many operators to achieve profitable occupancy levels for the foreseeable future.”