This Monday marks the second week of the month-long Eat Out to Help Out scheme in the UK.
With 73,000 eateries taking part, the figures released at the end of last week were encouraging; retail analyst Springboard reported an almost 30% increase in visitors when compared to the previous week to monitored venues, and booking platform Opentable reported a 10% increase in diners against. the same week last year.
However, while the scheme has seen success thus far, there are now growing concerns around the impact of the scheme on health and safety measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Given the recent spikes, particularly in the North of England and slight upward trend in cases in London, many believe that the scheme may encourage too many visitors to venues, potentially contributing to a second wave.
The IGD, a research charity at the heart of the food and consumer goods industry, recently found that 63% of people still remain nervous about the idea of eating out and 81% of diners claim that they will need to be confident about the hygiene measures in restaurants before they consider returning.
Whilst Eat Out to Help Out seems to have gained traction, there is still a huge proportion of the public still wary of eating out, and consumer confidence will take some time to recover.
One way hospitality venues can ensure that consumers and retailers alike enjoy and benefit from the customer experience while enforcing social distancing and extensive hygiene measures, is by turning to technology.
Will Broome, Founder and CEO of retail tech pioneers Ubamarket, comments on how venues can effectively navigate consumer fears by implementing technology to help to maintain safety and hygiene standards: “As we move into the second week of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, it seems clear that it has already had a positive impact for the hospitality sector. The noticeably increased footfall will no doubt give struggling hospitality venues a much needed boost, and bodes well for the future of the sector.
“However, there are still concerns regarding safety and hygiene measures, especially with the scheme only applying to consumers eating in-store. As such, it is more important than ever that hospitality venues adapt and develop the customer experience by implementing new approaches and technologies to not only safeguard the safety and wellbeing of customers and staff, but also to allow venues to take advantage of the benefits of the scheme.”