Consumers Longing To Get Back To Hospitality

Consumers are badly missing hospitality experiences but understand that going out to eat and drink won’t return to normal for a while yet.

That is the headline message from the third edition of CGA’s 2021 Hospitality Consumer Forecast, which explores attitudes to the On Premise while Britain remains under lockdown.

It shows three quarters (77%) of consumers are worried that life won’t return to normal in 2021. But when it does, it is clear that getting back to hospitality will be a priority for many people. Well over half (59%) say they can’t wait to go out again, and four in five (80%) hope to get back to venue within a few weeks of reopening.

The figures are broadly in line with those ahead of the reopening of hospitality after the first national lockdown in July 2020. While concerns about safety continue, the 2021 Hospitality Consumer Forecast shows confidence about going out is likely to rise in line with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines—prompting optimism that people will return to the sector promptly and safely when it reopens this time round.

The Forecast reveals that restaurants and cafes are likely to receive many of the first wave of returning consumers. Nearly a third (32% and 31% respectively) plan to visit them within the first few weeks of reopening—just ahead of pubs and fast food venues (both 25%).

Catching up with friends is the most keenly anticipated occasion for a quarter (26%) of consumers, just ahead of family occasions (20%). But the Forecast also hints that the post-lockdown market will be somewhat polarised between those spending carefully and freely, with similar numbers indicating they will be controlling their spending and treating themselves.

“Consumers have sorely missed going out to eat and drink, and these numbers show the enduring appeal of restaurants, pubs and bars,” says Florence Brun, CGA consumer research executive. “People are going to have to wait a while yet, and some will need reassuring, but when venues are able to open their doors we can look forward to a steady as well as safe return of guests.”

There are welcome signs of growing confidence across many segments of the market. Nearly three quarters (73%) of late-night and nightclub users now say they would feel comfortable visiting them when they are allowed to do so—up by 23 percentage points since June 2020. Numbers feeling confident are similar among of bar visitors (72%, up by ten percentage points on last June).

“It’s very encouraging to see signs of increasing confidence in sectors like nightclubs and bars that have been so badly hit by lockdowns,” says Florence Brun. “Given that these venues have been closed the longest of any sector, it’s no surprise to find that their users are among the keenest to get back after lockdown, and they could provide a desperately needed injection of spending when they can safely return.”