A third will return to “outside only” hospitality

1-in-3 UK adults say they will return to hospitality when it re-opens with outdoor seating and service only, according to a snap poll by KAM Media.

The research found that Generation Z and younger Millennials are the least likely to be put off by the prospect of ‘outdoor seating only’. 43% of 18-34 year olds saying they’ll return, compared with 24% of over 55 years olds.

“In many ways, it’s a positive that such a large proportion of potential customers are happy to dine and drink outside in April and May. We’ve heard many examples of incredibly high numbers of bookings where operators are lucky enough to have outdoor space.” Katy Moses, MD, KAM Media

And it’s not a huge surprise that younger customers will be the first back into our beer gardens and outdoor dining areas. This reflects what we saw last July too when hospitality first re-opened. The weather will obviously have a huge impact too.

Many customers are still cautious

KAM’s research found that a further 26% of UK adults intend to wait for pubs and restaurants to re-open with indoor seating and service before they visit them. A further 33% said they are not planning on visiting pubs or restaurants at all for the foreseeable future due to Covid-19. This figure was 42% for over 55 year olds. This seems a worrying figure but it’s worth noting that in pre-pandemic times, 25% of UK adults typically visit a pub less than twice a year, the figure is 15% for restaurants.

Most of our research throughout the pandemic has pointed to the fact that older customers are being more cautious, for obvious reasons. It seems that despite the vaccination programme, these customers are still less likely to return to hospitality right away. It is likely that many have also got used to staying at home, helped along by all the fantastic new ‘hospitality at home’ options. Operators will not only need to make them feel safe but also remind them what they’ve been missing.

Overall, UK consumers are considerably less fearful coming out of lockdown 3 compared with lockdown 1. They are however much more frustrated and bored which is a huge opportunity for hospitality to be a saviour in the eyes of its customers and give them something to smile about once lockdown measures lift again.

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