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Britain’s restaurants and pubs can expect almost total shut-down next week, with increasing numbers of the public deciding to stop going out because of COVID-19 fears - even if they haven’t already.

In a poll carried out by CGA on Wednesday this week, over half (52%) of adults who normally eat or drink out said they had already stopped going to restaurants on Government advice, and with crucially half (51%) of those yet to stop visiting saying they would cease in the coming week.

That would mean over three quarters of people who might eat-out in restaurants saying they will now actively avoid them. It is a similar picture for pubs, with 47% having stopped visiting in the past week, and almost half (48%) of consumers who are yet to stop saying they will not visit in the coming week.

Even coffee shops have been hit, with 47% of coffee shop users having already stopped going, with 30% visiting less frequently, and 46% of those still visiting stopping next week.

The tendency to stay away is much stronger among older age groups. In contrast over half (58%) of 18-34 year olds who usually go out said they would continue to go out to pubs, bars and restaurants.

Those who live in suburban and rural locations are most likely to be following Government advice, with 68% of suburban consumers and 66% saying they are avoiding going out. In contrast, almost a third (28%) of consumers living in town centres predict they will still visit pubs and bars, if visit less frequently. For those living in city centres, the majority of consumers expect to continue to visit the likes of pubs, bars and restaurants, with over 1 in 5 (22%) saying they will visit venues as often.

This implies that the massive loss of custom already felt in London is being driven by commuters and visitors staying away, rather than locals. Londoners who are the most likely to continue visiting the on-trade, albeit with a lower frequency, with 1 in 2 saying they will still visit venues, despite Government advice, but with 3 in 5 of these predicting that they will visit less frequently.

Consumers from the North East are most likely to be unfazed by the Government advice, with just under a quarter (24%) predicting that they will continue to visit venues as often as usual.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the population said that they had also chosen to stay local when going out to eat and drink rather than venture into city centres over the past two weeks.

The big loser this coming weekend will be Mother’s Day, usually one of the busiest trading days for the eating and drinking out market. Just 16% of the public are planning to go out for Mother’s Day this year, which would be a drop of 58% in footfall compared to last year.

One glimmer of hope for the out-of-home market is the public’s growing appetite for delivered food, the CGA survey reveals, with 1 in 8 of those polled reporting getting delivery from a restaurant or takeaway either for the first time, or more often than usual.

Of those, 72% suggested that they were likely to continue this behaviour, regardless of COVID-19. With 21% saying they used delivery as often as usual and a further 19% planning on using delivery in the coming weeks, that means just over half (53%) of the public are either currently using, or planning to use delivery as an alternative during the current crisis.

In addition, 20% of the sample said they used 'click and collect' from eating and drinking out establishments, with a further 15% planning on doing so. Drive thrus are also seeing an upturn, with over 1 in 10 consumers (11%) reporting increased usage or planned increased usage.

The survey makes it clear that the population is looking to the Government for advice, and vast majority of GB adults are taking that advice seriously, with 84% saying that they are following 'most' or 'all' Government guidelines.

CGA Group CEO Phil Tate said, “COVID-19 is obviously causing significant concern right across the population, with three quarters of adults worried about its impact on the health of themselves and their family. But an even greater proportion (78%) seriously concerned about the long-term financial implications of the pandemic, which means even when the immediate health threat dissipates there will be much longer-term anxieties that will effect businesses such as hospitality.”

Key points from the survey include:

For restaurants:

52% of visitors have stopped visiting altogether over the past week
29% are visiting less than usual
51% of consumers who are yet to stop visiting will not visit in the coming week

For pubs:
47% having stopped visiting in the past week
32% visiting less
48% of consumers who are yet to stop visiting will not visit in the coming week

For bars:
55% of consumers have stopped visiting
28% are visiting less than usual
54% of consumers who are yet to stop visiting are planning not to visit this week

More details, including the impact of delivery and the continuing changes in consumer behaviour, will be released next week. Figures are based on survey of over 700 GB adults, nationally representative of the GB population

(source: CGA, image: pexels)