Return Of The Pub – Many Can’t Wait Until Doors Re-Open!

A brand-new research study designed to understand the future behaviours and attitudes of UK pub customers when lockdown measures are eased has revealed that many can’t wait to get back to the pub!

1 in 3 of those aged between 18 and 34-year say they expect to visit pubs more often after lockdown than they did before.

The study, from KAM Media, in association with the BII, found that Generation Z and younger Millennials in particular are keen for pubs to re-open. 52% of respondents aged between 18-34-years say they plan to visit a pub at least once a week when lockdown measures lift.

Overall, however KAM Media confirms that footfall will indeed be down for the UK pub industry.

Katy Moses, MD, KAM Media: “The research suggests that overall customers intend to visit pubs around 12% less often. This equates to a loss of approximately 200 million pub visits, by regular pub goers, to UK pubs over the next six months.”

“Pubs will obviously be impacted very differently depending on their customer base, location and whether they are food or drink-focussed. Unfortunately, the types of pubs which may suffer the most initially are food-led and city centre locations – 48% of respondents say they intend to visit city centre pubs less often.”

The study shows that a customer’s age has a significant impact on their attitude towards returning to the pub. A third of people under 34 years (arguably the age group least at risk from Covid-19) plan to spend more time and more money per visit compared with just 6% of those over 55 years old.

“There is definitely a significant group of younger customers who will be relieved when pub finally re-open their doors, which is cause to celebrate! However, overall the pub industry is going to have to work hard to gain their customers’ confidence.”

“It’s no surprise that older customers are generally much more cautious – overall the main reason for reducing their pub visits was “I’m worried for my health. And for many younger customers, financial concerns will impact whether they choose to spend money on eating and drinking out” comments Moses.

Pub goers say the reasons that they will visit a pub will change slightly to. Pubs are likely to see fewer business meeting and remote working (at least to begin with.) Live sports in pubs is another key area that will be negatively impacted.

The research identified opportunities for pubs to try and pivot their businesses too with a surge in customer demand for home delivery and gift vouchers, and also opportunities to develop their offer via digital solutions.

Steven Alton, CEO at the BII comments: “The events over recent months have presented our great pubs with the most significant challenge they have ever faced.  As we look towards reopening our pubs, our members have shared their biggest challenges; ability to adapt traditional pubs to Government re-opening requirements, the very real issues of the initial trading being unprofitable and significant concerns over how confident customers will be in returning to the pub. We have no doubt that our members will adapt their approach to ensure the safety of their customers and teams is balanced with a great pub experience.”