Following the lockdown restrictions first lifting on 12 April 2021, which saw non-essential retail re-opening, along with pub gardens and gyms, then further lifted on 17 May to allow inside dining, the UK is finally starting to feel a little more “normal” again!

Although the hospitality sector was hit hard during the last year, the latest Business Confidence Survey has found that 79% of business leaders are reporting to be optimistic about the future for the dining and drinking out market – a confidence level which was last seen in February 2015! It also indicates that 58% of leaders in the pubs, bars and managed restaurants sectors rating their performance as “ahead of their expectations” since outside dining was permitted in mid-April.

Three days after the rules were relaxed to allow eating and drinking inside, spending in pubs and bars saw a 171% increase over the previous week and 58% increase in restaurant sales, according to Barclaycard Payments. Bookings website OpenTable reported that reservations also saw a huge increase of 60% on the previous week and overall 73% increase on pre-covid levels.

Unsurprisingly, delivery and takeaway services have reported a large sales increase within the last 2 years (345% higher than in April 2019) as people turned to these in a time when dining out was not an option. Even after the re-opening of pubs, bars and restaurants, sales have continued to increase and interestingly, takeaway more notably than delivery. With the Indian variant of COVID-19 becoming a concern, and bookings for restaurants being snapped up, some people seem to be happy to continue eating their favourites food at home for a little bit longer.

Despite teaming up with a delivery service, Greggs reported, for the first time in 36 years, a full year loss due to a sales decline. However, since re-opening in April 2021, trading has been reported as better than expected and they now even anticipate the overall sales to be better than they initially hoped! Seems the lunch “treat” demand for people returning to office working life and the pent-up demand for retail has boosted footfall.

After a long time of what felt like constant bad news and uncertainty, it’s great to start hearing some positive news and getting back to doing the things we enjoy with the people we love!


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