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One fifth of US drinkers would immediately visit bars post-lockdown

A new survey has found 22% of US consumers plan to immediately return to bars and restaurants when they reopen after Covid-19 lockdowns have been lifted, however social distancing measures were named as the biggest concern for drinkers.

22% of US drinkers plan to celebrate events they missed in on-trade venues once they reopen

Nielsen CGA surveyed 1,600 consumers from the states of New York, California, Illinois and Florida over the weekend of 24-27 April.

The research found social distancing is the biggest concern for participants when considering their return to bars and restaurants once lockdowns have been lifted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Among those surveyed, 28% said they would return to venues that could enable social distancing measures. However, 23% said they would only go back to on-trade outlets once the number of Covid-19 cases stopped increasing. This was followed by 22% that said they would return to bars and restaurants as soon as they reopen.

During lockdown, 61% of consumers said they had to rearrange or cancel celebrations to mark special occasions, with 22% now planning to celebrate the events missed in on-trade venues once they reopen.

Nielsen CGA found the top things consumers would like to see in venues when they reopen would be: having fewer tables or patrons within sites to accommodate social distancing (50%); additional hygiene programmes taking place in outlets (49%), and takeaway/delivery offerings still being available (41%).

The Nielsen CGA Restaurantrak data also showed takeaway and delivery sales from restaurants that have remained open have ‘stabilised’, with total sales down 68% in the week to 24 April and 67% down in the seven days to 18 April, compared to 75% down at the start of the month.

Alcohol purchased with takeaways has also increased with 14% of US consumers ordering a takeaway or delivery with booze in the week ending 26 April, up from 9% in the previous two weeks, the Nielsen CGA research shows. The number also increased for drinkers aged between 21 and 34, from 18% to 28%.

The survey also signalled a shift in the consumption and delivery of alcohol. While half of the consumers are still drinking the same amount of alcohol in the last two weeks as before the pandemic, the balance between those drinking more or less booze has tipped in favour of drinking more at 27%, versus 22% drinking less in the last two weeks.

In the 21-34 age group, 35% are drinking more than pre-Covid-19, and 33% of those aged between 35 and 54 are drinking more than usual.

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