Government's 'rule of six' hits consumer confidence

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Government's 'rule of six' hits consumer confidence when visiting restaurants

Related tags: Government, Restaurant, Coronavirus

A nationwide ban on social gatherings of more than six people has damaged the confidence and plans of consumers to eat and drink out, a snap poll from CGA reveals.

The Government's new 'rule of six', which comes into effect today (14 September) across England, has left nearly a third (31%) feeling less confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants.

In contrast, just 4% said the new measures had lifted their confidence.

CGA’s Consumer Pulse survey also found that nearly 60% of consumers who were intending to go out had cancelled plans or would not be making new ones in the future.

Around one in seven (15%) of all consumers said they would alter their plans to observe the new regulations, while only one in ten (10%) intend to go ahead with their visits regardless.

The survey reveals divided opinions on the new restrictions.

Two in five (43%) respondents think they are the right course of action, while nearly a quarter (23%) think they are too drastic.

The poll also indicates a generational split in attitudes.

Older consumers are much more likely than average to feel less confident about visiting pubs, bars and restaurants in light of the fresh restrictions, while younger adults are more likely to press on with their plans to go out.

The Government announced the changes for England - which, with some exemptions, bans larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors​, including in hospitality settings such as restaurants and pubs - last week.

Devolved governments in Scotland​ and Wales​ subsequently announced similar legislation. 

"This research really highlights the fragility of consumer confidence at the moment,” says Hannah Payne, consumer research manager at CGA.

“The new restrictions come just as restaurants and pubs were enjoying strong momentum from the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, and they are a warning if it were needed that the road back to normality in the out-of-home sector is going to be very bumpy.

“Many consumers will now be cancelling or changing their plans, and the restrictions increase the pressure on operators to show guests that they can eat and drink out safely.

"Understanding their anxieties and demonstrating rigorous precautions without compromising the experience of going out for a meal or drinks will be absolutely crucial over the autumn.”

The Consumer Pulse data is based on a survey of 500 British adults, nationally representative of the out-of-home visitor based on age. It was carried out last Thursday (10 September).

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