The Eat Out to Help Out scheme prompted week-on-week growth across the sector, with pubs the “standout winners”, according to card transaction tracker Cardlytics.

Early data from August revealed positive signs of recovery because of the scheme, as total spend and number of customer visits in the eating out sector increased by 11% in its first week.

With total spend continuing to grow over the month, pubs saw the greatest boost from the initiative, having recovered to pre-pandemic trade levels by its third week (w/c 17 August) and seeing visits up 11% year-on-year.

The uplift was a significant jump from July figures, where spend was at -41% year-on-year for pubs, and -67% in casual dining.

“There’s no doubt that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has successfully got cautious consumers off their couches and back into restaurants, pubs and cafes as discounts proved too enticing to resist after months of lockdown,” said Duncan Smith, Cardlytics commercial director.

“But the dining sector is not out of the woods yet. Overall visits continue to be down on last year and, in some areas, like London, the picture is even tougher.

“The real test of whether the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been a success will come in September when restaurants can no longer rely on Government funded discounts, to keep their tables full.”