Consumer confidence about eating and drinking out remains high despite the spread of the Omicron variant, new research from CGA shows.
The Consumer Pulse survey of 2,000 nationally representative consumers indicates that more than two thirds (70%) now feel confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants. It is double the number of 34% who felt confident at the start of 2021, and a sharp increase on the total of 52% from CGA’s research in July.
The research highlights lingering anxiety about COVID-19, with more than half (55%) of consumers worried about Omicron and two thirds (67%) concerned about a further peak in infections. However, hospitality venues’ efforts to reassure guests about safety appear to be working, with nearly three quarters (71%) of people feeling very or quite safe on their last visits—a small increase from July’s total of 69%.
Consumers are also keen to support a sector that has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Seven in 10 say they are worried that venues may not survive the pandemic, while 62% are actively supporting local hospitality businesses. There are signs that footfall should increase in the months ahead, as one in five (19%) consumers plans to visit venues more often than they did last year—slightly more than the number who think they will make fewer visits (17%). A third say they will step up their frequency of visits after the end of January.
CGA’s group CEO Phil Tate said: “After a very tough Christmas, these numbers are a welcome reminder of the huge underlying appeal of Britain’s pubs, bars and restaurants. Having missed out on so many hospitality occasions in 2021, and with concerns about safety easing, we can be cautiously optimistic that spending will rebound as the year goes on. However, it’s important to remember that some consumers remain anxious about going out. Hygiene and cleanliness will be important drivers of visits for some time to come, so venues will have to be vigilant on standards.”
He added: “Some hospitality businesses remain vulnerable after enduring nearly two years of very challenging trading conditions. But this is a resilient and resourceful industry, and with the right support from government it is well placed to drive Britain’s economic recovery in 2022 and thrive in the long run.”