Managed pubs and restaurant groups have seen food sales rise by a third week-on-week since the launch of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, according to the latest research by CGA.

On the first day of the initiative (Monday 3 August), food sales were up 100% on the previous Monday (27 July), followed by similar surges of 95% and 106% on Tuesday and Wednesday.

With the deal only available to consumers in the first half of the week, there was some uncertainty among operators that it could impact trade levels in the latter half.

However, while the data revealed that sales were down 4% week-on-week on Thursday 4 August, across the seven-day period (to Sunday 7 August) food sales saw a 31% uplift.

Following news from the Government that consumers used the scheme more than 10.5 million times in the first week, CGA’s consumer pulse survey found that just over a quarter (27%) of British adults had utilised the discount before 11 August, and 31% said they were likely to do so before the end of the month.

Of those who plan to use the scheme going forward, 57% said they would do so at least weekly, and just 17% said they would use it only once.

A quarter (26%) said they would be less likely to eat out at weekends for the duration of the scheme, but half (54%) said their weekend visit frequency would be unaffected, and a fifth (20%) even said they would be more likely to visit at weekends.

The scheme also appears to have achieved its goal of encouraging previously hesitant consumers to return to the sector, as two in five (39%) of those who have already used Eat Out to Help Out were making their first visit to a hospitality space since the end of lockdown.

Of those who are still to eat or drink out, 26% said they are likely to make use of the scheme before it ends.

There are also signs that the scheme will help with consumer confidence in the longer-term, as half (52%) of consumers who have gone out to eat and drink this month said the experience made them feel more confident about going out in the near future, and 45% said their confidence was unaffected.

“This data shows the Eat Out to Help Out scheme is having the desired effect of boosting food sales for restaurants, pubs and others at a time when they need it most,” said Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA.

“Along with operators’ stringent hygiene precautions, it is encouraging consumers to venture out and see that they can have a safe as well as good value meal out.

“As the scheme goes on it will hopefully begin to have a positive impact on footfall on other days of the week too, though it is already clear that the sector will need sustained support from government after the scheme ends at the end of the month.”

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