New figures show that some 49,000 operators made a EOHO claim by 30 September, with the majority (55%) coming from restaurant businesses.
The scheme offered eat-in customers at participating hospitality venues a 50% discount up to £10 per person on all food and non-alcoholic drinks between Mondays and Wednesdays throughout August,
About a third (34%) of discounted meals were claimed by businesses with more than 25 outlets, accounting for more than a quarter (27%) of the total amount claimed.
The average discount on a meal was £5.24.
EOHO was hailed a success by the majority of hospitality businesses for giving the sector a much-needed boost, but the imposition of new Government restrictions on the industry in September meant the short, sharp uplift didn’t last long.
According to October’s Coffer Peach Business Tracker, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down 23.9% by the end of September on the previous 12 months, with total sales down 35.3%, and numbers only continued to fall with the introduction of the tier system.
Commenting on the statistics published today (25 November), Paul Newman, head of leisure and hospitality at consulting and advisory firm RSM said: “Data released today underlines what a resounding success the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was in getting customers back into pubs and restaurants over the Summer.
"Take up grew steadily in popularity over August, from 26.5m meals claimed in the first week to 44.5m by week four as consumers saw at first hand the incredible efforts made by operators to make their venues Covid safe.
"It’s clear the success of the scheme was fundamental in keeping many businesses afloat through such challenging times. We would welcome a similar scheme next year to help the hospitality sector recoup some of the losses they will undoubtedly face as a consequence of the current lockdown, at a time when they would normally be building cash reserves to see them through the leaner Winter months.
"The timing of this is critical - it would be foolhardy to launch a scheme while infection rates remain so high.
"We would urge the Government to consider launching a new scheme for April next year to coincide with the ending of the furlough scheme.
"Rishi Sunak has said that his 'number one priority is to protect jobs and livelihoods' and this would go some way to doing that at a time when vaccination programmes should be rolling out and warmer weather will once again be enticing friends and family to get together in their favourite local over the Easter period."
Speaking to Sky News last month, the Chancellor refused to rule out a return of the scheme to boost consumer confidence going forward, but he later refuted suggestions on Twitter.
“We’ll talk about specific measures, but more broadly I think it’s right when we finally exit this (lockdown) and hopefully next year with testing and vaccines, we’ll be able to start to look forward to getting back to normal,” he told Sky.
“We’ll have to look forward to the economic situation then and see what the best form of our support.
“We want to get consumers spending again, get them out and about, we’ll look at a range of things to see what the right interventions are at that time.”