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Hospitality bounces back in April while Gousto campaign gives back to independent UK eateries

Almost half of adults in England have made it back to their favourite pubs, bars and restaurants since hospitality was allowed to reopen its doors on 12 April.

According to research, many are making up for lost time since the sector reopened three weeks ago. Consumers clocked up an average of 2.4 visits to hospitality outlets in the period between 12 April and 22 April.

Data consultancy CGA, which carried out the survey, estimated numbers are likely to be higher now.

Drink sales were up by 45 per cent during the week commencing 12 April 2021, when hospitality was allowed to reopen with restrictions, compared to the week of 4 July 2020

Meanwhile, the rate of return at 44 per cent is considerably higher than 2020’s post-lockdown reopening in July, when just 35 per cent of the adult population made it out to a hospitality venue.

Drink sales were up by 45 per cent during the week commencing 12 April compared to the week of 4 July 2020, when indoor service was also allowed following the first UK lockdown.  

However, some consumers remain discouraged by the prospect of indifferent weather and crowded spots. The survey showed a significant proportion of non-returners said they are waiting for indoor trading to open, or even for safety measures to end completely.

Rachel Weller, CGA’s director of consumer research and marketing, said: ‘It’s great to see that consumers have embraced outside eating and drinking in hospitality’s first week back. 

‘Pubs, bars and restaurants have worked very hard to make the most of their outside spaces, and the good weather has undoubtedly encouraged a speedy return.

‘With four weeks still to go until hospitality can fully return, businesses will be hoping for more sunshine and continued momentum of visits from increasingly confident consumers, while reassuring those who have not yet been out that it is safe to do so.’ 

Meanwhile, data from card payment provider, Dojo, found the average spend per customer in a pub during the first week of reopening was £21.65. 

The data found that the first day of pubs reopening led to four times the usual spend levels across hospitality, compared to a typical Monday trading. This uptake was an extra 10 to 20 per cent more than a typical day in August.

The UK cities who spent the most in pubs in the first week of reopening 
Ranking City Average Spend per Customer
1 Portsmouth £40.02
2 Dorchester £25.33
3 Slough £23.96
4 Southampton £23.67
5 Guildford £22.69
6 Saint Albans £22.08
7 Tonbridge £21.86
8 Swindon £21.49
9 Lancaster £21.30
10 Brighton £21.03
11 London £20.54
12 Crewe £20.07
13 Gloucester £19.59
14 Kingston-upon-Thames £19.19
15 Plymouth £18.93
16 Stevenage £18.66
17 Wigan £18.32
18 Chester £18.19
19 Ipswich £18.12
20 Truro £17.96

Interestingly, it was the seaside city of Portsmouth that enjoyed the largest average spend per customer coming in at £40.02. This is likely down to more and bigger outdoor spaces compared to bigger inner city areas.

The second biggest spenders during the week was Portsmouth’s neighbouring seaside city Dorchester with an average spend per customer sitting at £25.33. This was closely followed by Slough with £23.96, Southampton at £23.67, and Guilford with £22.69. 

According to Dojo, these locations may have seen bigger intakes due to simpler booking and paying systems with table service and card payments only. 

Rather than asking customers to pay per round, which creates more work for already frantic staff, many pubs will ask customers to open a tab, then pay the full amount before leaving. 

Gousto gives back

Meanwhile, food delivery service Gousto has today launched its Cookstarter Kits, following its campaign to help UK’s independent restaurants, which it first launched in January.

The five brands, which were selected and voted for by 15,000 Gousto customers, will each see one of their most popular recipes featured in the weekly kits.

Home cooks can order the kits and support local eateries that aren’t just on their doorsteps, but hundreds of miles away too as they can tip the eateries directly via a partnership with cashless tipping solution TipJar. 

Home recipe kit delivery service Gousto has launched the Cookstarter campaign which asks the nation to nominate their favourite UK based independent eateries this week

Home recipe kit delivery service Gousto has launched the Cookstarter campaign which asks the nation to nominate their favourite UK based independent eateries this week

The restaurant inspired recipes include Palestinian chicken musakhan from Manchester’s Baity Kitchen, squash and garlic mushroom Gnocchi from North Shields’ Scott & Wilson’s, a Vietnamese stir-fry from Bath’s Noya’s Kitchen, Thai chicken curry from London’s MC & Sons and chorizo tacos from Cardiff’s La Pantera.   

In addition to each listing a recipe on Gousto, the winners have collectively received £50,000 in funding, as well as a year-long programme of business mentoring from Gousto’s leadership team.  

Cookstarter is backed by foodie celebrities Joe Wicks and Gizzi Erskine, as well as comedian Katherine Ryan, and aims to support independent restaurants during challenging times. 

In a survey, 7 in 10 Brits said they feared that variety in Britain’s food scene was under threat because of the pandemic, and 82 per cent would like to be able to do more to help them during this difficult time.  

The campaign comes after a successful year for Gousto, which saw a surge in customers when the first lockdown was implemented in March 2020.

Oversubscription at the time meant new customers were unable to sign up to the service and the number of recipes available were limited for a short period, but since then the company has been able to expand.  

Following its latest fund raising round last year, Gousto became the UK’s latest tech ‘unicorn’: an elite group of 19 venture-backed UK businesses that have achieved a valuation of at least $1billion. 

The investment was in-line with Gousto’s strategy to triple its capacity by 2022, with the opening of new customer fulfilment centres and the creation of 1,000 new jobs over the period. 

The company’s second fulfilment centre in Lincolnshire went live at the end of 2020 and the development of centres three and four have been brought forward to meet the strong ongoing customer demand. 

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