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Report highlights how on-trade can speed up recovery

‘Rigorous’ safety measures, industry collaboration and government support will be key to speeding up the on-trade’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report has urged.

The on-trade in the UK is slowly reopening, but consumers remain cautious about returning

A new edition in the Future Shock series of reports from trade body UK Hospitality and data research and consultancy firm CGA showed consumers are slowly returning to on-trade venues, but with caution.

The data revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of consumers are only returning to venues with caution, while a third (33%) are only doing so if they are sure that additional safety measures are in place.

Furthermore, only 16% of leaders are optimistic about the prospects of the hospitality industry over the next 12 months.

Karl Chessell, business unit director, retail and food at CGA, said: “The last four months has been the most difficult period of trading that most of us in the industry have ever seen. CGA’s data shows how the pandemic caused a sudden and dramatic downturn in sales and had a seismic effect on consumer behaviour, and the big question now is how quickly the market can recover.

“There are clearly many tough challenges ahead, but with the backing of consumers and the right support from government, businesses can not just survive the pandemic but thrive in the happier times that lie ahead.”

However, CGA and UK Hospitality also noted ‘green shoots of recovery’ for the sector, which was allowed to reopen in England on 4 July and in Scotland on 15 July. Parts of hospitality were able to reopen in Wales on 13 July and from 3 July in Northern Ireland.

One emerging trend noted in the report is a preference to eat and drink in local venues rather than travel to city centres. Consumers are also keen to book ahead, and there’s an ‘emerging polarisation’ between the value end and premium ends of the on-trade market.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “There is still a huge amount of graft to be done if we are to make it through this crisis in one piece, but if any sector can emerge stronger it is hospitality.

“We have pushed – and will continue to push – hard to persuade UK governments to provide as much support as possible to keep businesses afloat and jobs secure, and have done everything we can to help pave the way for recovery.

“We have all faced up to some difficult truths and learned some valuable lessons, and we’re pleased to be able to share much of that insight and expertise in this edition of Future Shock.”

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