Over 10.5 Million Brits Claim Half-Price Meals In First Week

British diners took advantage of the Chancellor’s “eat out to help out” scheme and ate more than 10.5 million meals last week as part of a new Government plan to boost the UK’s hospitality sector, particularly pubs and restaurants after months of lockdown.

The scheme sees the government pay for 50% of a meal eaten at a cafe, restaurant or pub on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and the discount, which is due to run throughout August, is capped at £10.

Treasury estimates put the average claim at close to £5, making the cost of the policy around £50m so far. HMRC said that, as of 9 August, it had received 10,540,394 claims under the scheme. Chancellor Rishi Sunak described the figures as “amazing”, adding “Britons are eating out to help out in big numbers. And they aren’t just getting a great deal – they’re supporting the almost two million people employed in this sector,”

The govt has set apart £500m to fund the coverage, and the HMRC said that it had received 10,540,394 claims under the scheme, as of August 9.

The scheme has led to an increase in the number of people visiting High Streets across the country, according to Springboard, which measures footfall figures.

It said the number of people in retail destinations after 18:00 BST last Monday, the first day of the scheme, was 19% higher than the week before. Meanwhile lunchtime visits were up 10%.

However, visits to High Streets are still down significantly compared to the same time last year.

The Treasury said that 83,068 restaurants had signed up to the scheme.

Tsewang Wangkang, founder and CEO of Embargo said: “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is great news for the hospitality sector. Yes it has its limitations, but any move to stimulate activity within the industry is very important.

“However, the scheme only lasts for one month. So, restaurants, bars and coffee shops must still ready themselves for the challenges ahead. As well as implementing new health and safety measures, they must focus on how they will attract customers and keep them coming back time and time again. As people remain within their local area more, hospitality businesses must ensure they are tapping into their loyal, nearby customers – they must be incentivised to return, and this must extend beyond the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. The scheme is a golden opportunity to turn as many customers as possible, visiting during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, into returning customers. This is only possible if the venues prepare themselves accordingly by making sure they get to know these customers and communicate with them even after the scheme has ended. Staying in touch with and rewarding loyal customers is a ‘must have’ for every hospitality now.

“The pandemic has obviously dealt a huge blow to the hospitality sector, but we should not pretend the crisis has passed. It is really important that businesses take a smarter approach in the way they nurture their regulars to ensure steady revenue.”