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Eat out to help out totals 10.5m claims in its first week

Published:  12 August, 2020

UK diners have been quick to adopt the Treasury’s plan to boost the hospitality industry by taking advantage of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The first figures puts the number of claims in excess of 10.5 million, costing the government around £50m so far.

Figures are from HMRC to 9 August, with 83,068 UK restaurants signed up to the scheme.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the figures show “our plan for jobs is delivering.”

“Britons are eating out to help out in big numbers. And they aren’t just getting a great deal – they’re supporting the almost 2 million people employed in this sector,” he said.

Feedback from the trade has been encouraging. Along with reports of packed out restaurants with reservations booked up in many outlets, booking platform Opentable reported a 10% increase in diners for last week versus the same week last year (Mon-Wed).  

The knock on effect to retail has also played out in the sector’s favour.

As the scheme triggered an increase in the number of people visiting shopping centres and high streets across the country, retail analyst Springboard found that customer visits were up almost 30% in comparison to the previous week.

While the scheme has been welcomed for getting consumers back into the habit of eating out, higher footfall has also led to growing concerns around the impact of the scheme on health and safety measures.

“Given the recent spikes, particularly in the North of England and a 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,” said Will Broome, CEO of hospitality app uBARmarket.

The IGD, a research charity working within the food and consumer goods industry, recently found that 63% of people still remain nervous about the idea of eating out, while 81% of diners claim that they will need to be confident about the hygiene measures in restaurants before they consider returning.

Speaking of the large proportion of the public that is still wary of eating out, Luke Davis, CEO of IW Capital and private equity expert, said: “Government support for the sector is obviously welcome but it will only go so far after August. While increased consumer confidence is key to recovery and survival for many firms, investment and innovation will be equally key in the coming months and years.”