New Restrictions To Cut Hospitality Visits But Won’t End Socialising

Snap survey from CGA reveals a sharp drop in the frequency and length of people’s trips to restaurants, pubs and bars, and split opinions on the impact of government measures

Consumers will significantly reduce their visits to pubs, bars and restaurants in the light of new government restrictions—but many plan to continue socialising elsewhere after curfew.

Those are among the messages from CGA’s latest Consumer Pulse Survey, conducted on Tuesday [22 September] after the announcement of requirements including 10pm closures and mandatory table service. Two in five (40%) respondents say they will go out less often as a result of the measures—nearly three times as many as those who will go out more frequently (14%).

Tighter regulations are set to have the biggest impact on consumers who have been slow to return to hospitality—especially those in older age groups. They appear less likely to affect the behaviour of previously regular visitors, who largely indicate they will maintain their frequency.

But the curfew might not have the government’s desired effect of reducing late-night contact, the survey suggests. A third (34%) of British adults say they would be likely to invite friends back to their house after 10pm, and nearly as many (30%) admit they would seek out alternative locations to continue socialising.

The Consumer Pulse Survey indicates the measures may have further important impacts on behaviour, including shorter visits and an even greater reluctance to visit city centres. Among people who often go out late, three quarters will either stay for a shorter length of time (43%) or stay away in the late evening completely (34%). Of those who typically visit city centres, half (48%) say they are now less likely to visit venues—much more than those in rural areas (29%).

The regulations may also spread visits more evenly across the week—continuing a pattern of behaviour set in August by the popularity of the Monday-to-Wednesday Eat Out to Help Out promotion. Two in five (41%) consumers who previously went out on Saturdays say they are less likely to do so now, compared to 29% of weekday visitors.

CGA’s research & insight director Charlie Mitchell said: “Our survey shows that having been encouraged out to restaurants, pubs and bars in August, large numbers of consumers are now likely to retreat. The new restrictions deal a major blow to operators who had got back on their feet after lockdown, and to city-centre and late-night operators in particular.

“With so many people signalling they will simply switch their socialising elsewhere, rather than in the hygienic environments that operators have worked so hard to create, these measures may not even have much beneficial impact. Businesses have responded nimbly to all the restrictions that have been placed on them so far, and will now be finding more innovative ways to sustain trade without compromising guests’ safety.”