Less than two thirds (62%) of the UK’s licensed premises were trading again by the end of July, with pubs reopening at a quicker rate than restaurants, according to the new Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and Alix Partners.

By the end of last month, nearly 71,000 licensed premises out of a potential 114,500 had reopened, with 87% of food-led pubs and 84% of high street pubs having opened their doors, compared to just 56% of full-service and 63% of casual dining restaurants.

While more restaurants will have been incentivised by the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, the Monitor’s data suggests that the causal sector is likely to reduce in size, following moves by several large operators including The Restaurant Group, Casual Dining Group and Pizza Express to permanently close sites or undergo company voluntary arrangements (CVAs).

When broken down geographically, nearly three quarters (73%) of sites are now open in the North East and South West of England, which is 12% up on London (61%).

Operating numbers are currently much lower in Scotland and Wales, having been given the green light to start trading some time after 4 July, with open premises at 59% and 34% respectively.

“This new data makes it clear that hospitality’s road to recovery will be long,” said Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director for food and retail. “It is encouraging to see so many pubs back up and running soon after the end of lockdown, but that is in sharp contrast to the casual dining restaurant sector, especially in city centres, where footfall remains well below pre-covid levels as shoppers, diners and drinkers opt to stay closer to home.”

“The Eat Out To Help Out scheme and staycation trend will both hopefully encourage more city and town restaurants to return over August. However, much will now depend on consumer confidence and pandemic restrictions.

“The number one challenge for businesses is to respond to people’s concerns and demonstrate that they can have a safe and enjoyable experience when they go out to eat and drink. If they can achieve that, we can expect to see site and trading numbers increase over the summer and autumn.”