The market research company says that customer behaviour following previous lockdowns points to people staying closer to home and visiting neighbourhood restaurants when restrictions begin to lift from 12 April.
In the four weeks after reopening in 2020, independent restaurants accounted for 53.4% of full-service restaurant sales, compared with the 44.7% average in 2019, says Kantar, which is predicting that an increased awareness of the impact of COVID-19 among consumers will continue this trend in 2021.
The return was driven by people aged between 25 and 54, who accounted for 43% of trips to pubs and bars and 56% of visits to full-service restaurants in those first four weeks, an increase of 6.6 and 7.4 percentage points respectively compared with 2019, according to Kantar.
People aged over 55 cited food and venue hygiene as the main reason for their reluctance to return, it says.
“While not everyone rushed back to restaurants, pubs and cafés in 2020, the number of consumers dining out reached 95% of pre-pandemic levels by September,” says Lucy Chapman, strategic insight director at Kantar.
“This year, business owners and customers will be keeping an eye on the weather. We had both sun and snow over the Easter weekend and changeable conditions will have a big impact on initial sales as dining is limited to outdoor seating.”
Kantar’s data also found that 65% of consumers returned to eating out within one month of the reopening in 2020. Yet, after four weeks total visits to these venues had only reached 50% of pre-pandemic levels based on a 2019 average.
It does, however, predict what it says will be a ‘roaring summer’ with older people enjoying greater freedom thanks to vaccinations.
“Consumers are very aware of the impact of COVID-19 on their favourite venues and they are likely to make a special effort to back their neighbourhood restaurants,” says Chapman.