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Consumers happy to head out from 12th April

Three in four (76%) consumers say they are likely to visit a venue with outdoor seating within a month of hospitality reopening in England, according to a report by market analysts CGA.

Consumer Countdown to Reopening Series research shows a widespread determination to get back to restaurants, pubs and bars, with a third (33%) planning to get back within a week, and 12% intending to return on the first day they can.

That leaves a quarter (24%) of consumers who aren’t likely to return until at least 17th May, when venues can trade inside again.

This group are put off in equal measure by not wanting to sit outside (40%) and a desire to avoid crowds (39%)—though the majority plan to return either when indoor seating is available (21%) or when eating and drinking out feels normal again (59%).

By June, four in five (81%) consumers in England say they are likely to be back in the market.

However, a significant number (41%) of those not returning before mid-May say they don’t plan to visit venues for a long time yet.

It is a reminder that venues still have a job to do to reassure guests about safety, even if consumers have become more confident about going out in light of the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

Managing bookings and walk-ins and keeping up hygiene and distancing protocols will all be important if venues are to persuade these cautious consumers back.

The success of outside openings may well depend on the weather from mid-April, and the use that operators can make of their outdoor space.

The Consumer Countdown to Reopening data reveals very similar patterns of consumer sentiment in Scotland, where hospitality operators have a provisional reopening date of 26th April, two weeks after England. There are frustrations about Scotland’s delay, with a quarter (24%) of consumers there thinking the approach eases restrictions too slowly, compared to 16% in England.

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