Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning (24 August), Nicholls noted how the scheme had been successful in 'boosting confidence and boosting footfall', saying that 70% of users had said it was the launch of the scheme that had tempted them back out to hospitality venues following the easing of Coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
“They needed it to boost their confidence and now they feel that they can return, not just to restaurants, pubs and bars, but also the high street,” she said.
“And they’re more comfortable about returning to public transport, which is critical for getting the economy moving.”
Figures released by the Treasury last Tuesday (18 August) show that businesses claimed for over 35m discounted meals during the first two weeks of the scheme (3-5 August/10-12 August), with more than 85,000 restaurants registered.
Nicholls previously voiced support for extending the scheme last week.
Following a discussion with LBC’s Nick Ferrari Nick Ferrari, she wrote on Twitter: "Just spoken about this [Eat Out to Help Out] with @NickFerrariLBC – the benefit to consumers, the importance to businesses and the need to continue it for another month to get the remaining 50% of restaurants and pubs reopen and successfully trading. Hugely beneficial."
Some restaurants have already taken the decision to mirror the scheme throughout September and beyond at their own cost in a bid to further drive sales beyond the summer.
The Gaucho group, for example, will continue to offer a 50% discount up to £10 per person on all food and non-alcoholic drinks between Mondays and Wednesdays across both its Gaucho and M steak restaurant brands in September, with CEO Martin Williams encouraging others in the industry to follow suit.
“We are equally part of the solution and now it’s our turn to give back, both by rewarding previous guests loyalty and thanking new diners who are experiencing Gaucho or M for the first time in September," said Williams last week.
"We encourage those restaurants that are able, to do the same. Let’s all play our part in getting the hospitality industry back on track and being part of the solution."