Nearly half of pubs, restaurants and hotels have lost approximately 75% of festive bookings since the ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfew began a new survey has found, but only 2% of the public said they were no longer planning to eat out this Christmas due to their fear of catching the virus.
With the three-tier system applying the ‘rule of six’ for all dining out with the highest tier as just one household/bubble, along with a ‘circuit breaker’ now in Wales, most people aren’t waiting on the Prime Minister to lift the ‘rule of six’ for Christmas Day. Yet 77% of consumers said they would rebook Christmas reservations if the ‘rule of six’ banning larger gatherings during the pandemic was lifted.
The new research of 2,000 consumers in England and 500 owners or managers of pubs, hotels and restaurants by Adactus a specialist in booking and reservation systems, found that while 37% had cancelled their Christmas day bookings to eat out in a pub, restaurant or hotel, the restrictions were resulting in cancellations right across the Christmas period, with 45% also cancelling or changing plans to eat out on New Year’s Eve, 26% on Boxing Day and 19% on Christmas Eve.
Instead over half of people in England are planning to break the ‘rule of six’ rule this Christmas by celebrating privately at home with friends and family without an evening curfew. 69% said they had changed plans or cancelled reservations to eat out because their party would exceed the ‘rule of six’.
66% said their cancelled bookings included their office Christmas party, 26% included their annual family Christmas dinner, 16% a dinner with friends and 6% meals out Christmas shopping with friends. 69% of hospitality businesses said they are pessimistic about the viability of their businesses if the rules remain in place for up to six months.
When it came to recording ‘Track and Trace’, 89% of the public stated this was being done using a clipboard/folder/book, just 5% on the NHS app and 5% via a venue’s app – with 85% also saying that any paper recordings were also left out at the venue in full view of anyone, which is contrary to GDPR rules.
Scott Muncaster, Managing Director of Adactus and creator of the SmartQ Smart Bookings system said: “Clearly our study has found that people are not changing their Christmas plans to eat out due to their fear of catching the virus, but due to the ‘rule of six’ and 10pm curfew. Many people would still like to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with meals out but are being put off by the restrictions.
“There is still time for restaurants to persuade guests to book to celebrate with them, albeit in different ways to a normal Christmas. They should be talking about the Christmas period with their guests now, inspiring them to focus on what is possible within the restrictions – smaller groups enjoying a memorable and safe festive experience while following the rules we all need to live by. Clear communication and a robust, fixed-cost booking system are essential to provide guests with all the reassurance and ease needed to book their table.”