Data from the third edition of CGA’s 2021 Hospitality Consumer Forecast, which is based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 3,000 on-trade consumers, shows that people are badly missing hospitality experiences.
However, many do not expect the on-trade experience to 'return to normal' for a while yet, with three quarters (77%) of consumers worried that life won’t return to normal in 2021.
More than half (59%), though, say they can’t wait to go out again.
The figures are broadly in line with those ahead of the reopening of hospitality after the first national lockdown in July 2020.
Restaurants and cafes are likely to receive many of the first wave of returning consumers, according to the Forecast.
Nearly a third (32% and 31% respectively) plan to visit them within the first few weeks of reopening, just ahead of pubs and fast food venues (both 25%).
Catching up with friends is the most keenly anticipated occasion for a quarter (26%) of consumers, just ahead of family occasions (20%).
However, the Forecast also hints that the post-lockdown market will be somewhat polarised between those spending carefully and freely, with similar numbers indicating they will be controlling their spending and treating themselves.
“Consumers have sorely missed going out to eat and drink, and these numbers show the enduring appeal of restaurants, pubs and bars,” says Florence Brun, CGA consumer research executive.
“People are going to have to wait a while yet, and some will need reassuring, but when venues are able to open their doors we can look forward to a steady as well as safe return of guests.”
There are welcome signs of growing confidence across many segments of the market.
Nearly three quarters (73%) of late-night and nightclub users now say they would feel comfortable visiting them when they are allowed to do so, compared to just 50% in June last year; while 72% now say they would feel confident visiting bars, up from 62% last June.
"It’s very encouraging to see signs of increasing confidence in sectors like nightclubs and bars that have been so badly hit by lockdowns,” continues Brun.
“Given that these venues have been closed the longest of any sector, it’s no surprise to find that their users are among the keenest to get back after lockdown, and they could provide a desperately needed injection of spending when they can safely return.”