UK diners eat 100 million meals through EOHO

Over 100 million meals have been claimed for under the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August, the Treasury has revealed. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the scheme has helped protect the livelihoods of 1.8 million people working in the hospitality sector, as well as drive the nation’s economic recovery following Covid-19

The latest figures show that the scheme “significantly” boosted restaurant bookings during the month, with bookings up by an average of 53% on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the whole of August against the year before. 

In comparison, July restaurant bookings were down 54% on average from Mondays to Wednesdays against 2019. On 31 August, however, bookings were up 216% compared to the equivalent day in 2019.

By midnight on 31 August more than 100 million meals were eaten by diners, with the 84,700 establishments signed up to the scheme making 130,000 claims worth £522m.

These numbers are likely to grow, according to the Treasury, with restaurants having until the end of September to claim back the 50% government-funded discount applied to bills.

In addition, early signs show that the scheme has continued to boost demand, with a 2% rise in restaurant bookings on 1 September compared to the equivalent day in 2019, according to OpenTable.

There has also been an upward trend in the scheme’s popularity since it launched, with 10.5 million meals claimed for in total in the first week, 35 million meals in the second, 64 million in the third and over 100 million by 31 August.

Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: “The Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been a great success for hospitality. Our members have reported very strong bookings throughout August at a time when the sector really needed a boost. 

“It has helped provide a lift in consumer confidence which is going to be key for hospitality businesses as they look to reopen and help rebuild the economy. The scheme has provided a timely boost in trade which will have helped many businesses safeguard jobs all around the UK.”

Jes Staley, Barclays Group CEO, said: “Eat Out to Help Out has undoubtedly had a positive impact – our data shows that restaurant spend grew by 34 per cent on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August compared to the same days in July.

“The scheme has given the industry a real boost, and will hopefully support the jobs of many hardworking restaurant and fast-food employees across the country.” 

He added: “Consumer feedback was also very encouraging, with almost one in five planning to continue dining out more often to support the industry, and a similar number saying that they will return to restaurants that they would not have visited otherwise.”

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