Keeping hygiene measures such as table service and hand sanitisation stations in place could be vital for restaurants trying to attract guests back even though social distancing rules are relaxed from today.
That’s according to Lumina Intelligence, which warned that a third of consumers plan to eat out less frequently than they did pre-pandemic, with the intention to eat out less often the highest among 45-64 year-olds.
It latest UK Eating Out Market report found that 46% of consumers surveyed in May said they planned to eat out at the same frequency over the next 12 months, while 13% said they planned to eat out more.
7% said they were unsure what they were likely to do, while 5% said they never ate out.
Pubs and bars look set to be the most impacted channel with 33% of consumers expecting to visit these kinds of venues less often over the next year, seven percentage points higher than for restaurants.
In fact, eating out at restaurants has been one of the most missed activities during the pandemic, according to the survey, second only to meeting family and friends, and was consistent across all age demographics.
Going for a coffee/tea and visiting the pub were the fourth and fifth most missed activities, respectively, while working at people’s usual place of work was the least missed.
Treat-led occasions remained the number one motivator for consumers to eat out, according to the report – up from 16% to 19% in the 12 weeks to 18 April 2021.
Not wanting to cook remained the second most common reason with a 15% share, and choosing to eat out due to being ‘out and about’ was the third at 11%.
Blonnie Whist, insight director at Lumina Intelligence, said: “There is a lot of pent-up demand for returning to hospitality without restrictions, but with the virus remaining present there will be a level of anxiety amongst some consumers that will make them more cautious in their return.
“Operators need to reassure consumers that their premises are safe, which may mean keeping in place some of the measures introduced during the pandemic, such as table service and sanitising stations.”