Research reveals how customer expectations have changed
The UK public’s wish to get back, dine out or have a trip away with the family could inject as much as £3.8bn** into the economy within a week of lockdown measures easing. New research from Caterer.com shows that the majority of Brits (63%) are keen to support local hospitality businesses as soon as possible, providing the right safety measures are in place.
The survey of more than 2,000 people revealed that nearly half (42%) of people have a new-found appreciation of the sector and 51% are eager for hospitality businesses to get ‘back to normal’*. In fact, almost a third (31%) of consumers are planning to go to the pub within a week of being allowed to do so, increasing to over half (53%) in London and 30% plan to dine out within a week of restaurant’s opening.
With supermarkets, banks and other essential retail businesses paving the way for a socially distanced lifestyle, new ‘going out’ measures are being established by the hospitality industry. The insights from Caterer.com show that 62% of Britons would feel comfortable eating in restaurants that occupied every other table only and 55% would rather hospitality businesses only allowed groups of up to four people per table. Buffet-style restaurants have more measures to consider, as 70% of people would avoid buffet-style restaurants until a vaccine is found. These figures support the call from the sector for additional support from the government in order to make operation financially viable.
Consumers would even be prepared to pay a premium for enhanced cleaning in restaurants, bars and pubs (41%) and also for social distancing practices (40%). Other suggestions from customers to help make them feel comfortable to return to hospitality businesses include:
- 54% think hand sanitiser should be provided for all customers and staff
- 47% would like all staff to be trained on a new cleaning protocol
- 36% think Social Distancing Managers should be implemented
- 22% think that all staff should wear PPE
- 18% think they should be able to order their meals digitally
Interestingly, two thirds (67%) of consumers believe the government should provide support to hospitality businesses that need it in order to survive. Several initiatives are currently being spearheaded by leading bodies within the industry including Hospitality Union’s #NationalTimeOut campaign, asking for a nine-month rent free period and UKHospitality’s six-point plan to help hospitality recover.
Neil Pattison, Director at Caterer.com, said: “While this has been an incredibly painful time for the sector, it’s encouraging to see the public have a huge appreciation for what the hospitality sector provides to communities. There is strong appetite to support these businesses and workers in getting back on their feet.
“While measures like having more hand sanitiser available and training staff to introduce new cleaning regimes may be more simply implemented, social distancing measures will mean far fewer customers can be served at one time. As a result, there is deep concern about how hospitality businesses will survive economically in the short and long term. We are grateful for the government’s support to date, however there is still much more work to be done and it’s vital that this continues.”
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive from UKHospitality comments: “Consumer confidence is going to be key once businesses begin to reopen. It is going to be a long, hard road back to normality and venues are going to need the support of their communities. If the Government wants to boost confidence further they can help us provide safe venues by cutting hospitality VAT, one of the objectives in our #Fair4Hospitality campaign.
“It is encouraging to see that so many people are eager to support hospitality in their communities as soon as possible. It highlights what a fantastic social asset these businesses are and the great work our sector does all around the country.”
The research reveals that customers have been doing what they can to help local hospitality businesses forced to close during lockdown by buying takeaways (28%), food parcels (9%) and gift vouchers (5%). Some 3.6m people have already started booking their Christmas party or meal out to help businesses with the cashflow they are in desperate need of at the moment.
For further information and guidance please visit Caterer.com.