Pubs ahead of restaurants in reopenings, says CGA

The pattern of reopening across hospitality sites has been “uneven” since lockdown eased, according to the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners.

Some 62% of Britain’s licensed premises were trading again by the end of July, though pubs were ahead of restaurants, and sites in London “lagged behind the rest of England”. 

According to its latest findings, independent businesses have also been less likely to reopen than bigger counterparts, with 52% open at the end of July compared to 75% of group-managed sites. 

In total, 87% of food-led pubs and 84% of high street pubs have now reopened, but only 56% of full-service restaurants and 63% of casual dining restaurants have done the same. 

While more restaurants have been “incentivised” by the recent VAT cut and Eat Out To Help Out initiative, data suggests that the pandemic may “substantially reduce the size of Britain’s casual dining and restaurant market”. 

In addition, the CGA found that bars and sports and social clubs have witnessed lower opening numbers. 

Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA, said: “This new data makes it clear that hospitality’s road to recovery will be long. 

“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.” 

He added: “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.”

AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith said: “With a little over a month since hospitality businesses were allowed to welcome back customers, these figures demonstrate that the shape of the recovery and site reopenings is not straightforward and dictated by many factors. 

“While pubs are leading the charge, casual dining and restaurant operators are taking a much more cautious approach. Headlines over the past few weeks have been dominated by news of some of these businesses permanently shuttering sites or restructuring and our view is more of these processes will emerge in the coming period.”

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