This emerged in a recent presentation by CGA Group Chief Executive Phil Tate as part of CGA’s ‘The Big Peach 2020 Digital Experience’, a virtual conference hosted live from London by Peach 2020 founder and CGA Vice President Peter Martin together with UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls.
Through CGA’s latest Consumer Pulse poll of 500 nationally representative consumers the virtual conference offered a view of the new hospitality market landscape including its changing shape, trading trends, industry confidence and new consumer habits.
CGA’s research in China as well as that in the UK has consistently shown high levels of confidence in safety and hygiene – and that’s crucial in encouraging post-lockdown visits.
“People feel confident about staying safe in our environments – the key is helping unconfident people come and try us – and the good news is we’re seeing progress there,” said Phil Tate who offered a definitive overview of the out-of-home eating and drinking sector.
His presentation pointed out that the on-premise market is a well-loved and integral element in the lives of British consumers.
For 68% it ‘gives me something to look forward to’, while the on-premise is where 63% go to celebrate.
57% of on-premise users consider that on-premises ‘positively contribute to my wellbeing’.
This strength of attachment to the sector gives cause for optimism about the long-term future.
“We are loved by consumers… I can’t see banking getting those same kind of figures,” he said.
CGA’s Brand Track 2020 survey found that 53% of consumers who’d been sitting outside would continue to do so if outdoor areas were adapted for Winter.
Consumers’ top considerations evolving
The survey also found that UK consumers’ top considerations when deciding where to visit have evolved over the last two months as confidence built.
‘The quality of the food available’ remained in pole position as it did in August with 57% of respondents (up from being third in July).
‘Hygiene/cleanliness levels’ kept its number two status on 53% from August after being the top consideration in July.
On 49% ‘value-for-money’ retained third position from August, up from the sixth-top consideration back in July.
‘How convenient it is to visit’ remained fourth on the list with 48%, but this had been the second-top consideration back in July.
At 46% ‘price’ had retained its fifth position throughout.
Retaining its sixth position since August with 36%, ‘my trust in the venue’ dropped from fourth-most-important consideration in July.
At 30%, ‘the level of service’ remained on a par throughout, thus retaining its eighth position while ‘the atmosphere/experience provided’, at 27%, was ninth in August too, up from 11th in July.
Importance of local
The importance of the local was also brought out in CGA’s survey with some 46% of consumers visiting venues local to where they live more often or as often as previously since venues reopened.
When asked ‘Why are you going out more locally to where you live?’ some 60% cited ‘Convenience’ while 55% said ‘To support local businesses’ and 47% ‘To avoid busy areas’.
Avoidance of public transport was cited by 33% while 24% cited ‘I realised local venues are just as good’ and 22% ‘I’m working from home and staying local’.
This has made trading tough for city centre venues.
One in two city centre workers now working from home typically ate or drank in venues in close proximity to their workplace three or more times per week with a further 29% doing so once or twice per week.
Delivery flourishes again in lockdown
CGA’s Consumer Pulse survey also found that the average amount that consumers interested in restaurant cook-at-home meals would be willing to spend on the experience was £26.99.
According to CGA, “This indicates that while the market has been polarized and some people are now sharply focused on value, others will still be willing to pay a premium for a high-quality experience when they get back to eating or drinking out”.
By the start of October some one in five on-trade outlets in the UK had not reopened – equivalent to around 22,000 sites. The Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners shows that nightclubs and bars have been particularly badly hit, along with sports and social clubs.
And the UKHospitality and CGA’s Quarterly Tracker indicates a sales shortfall of £53 billion, equating to a 40% drop in annual turnover.
Business leaders there indicate that many of these closed sites will never reopen – but while that’s a major blow for some operators, it also reduces capacity and provides property opportunities for others.
“We’ve seen the competitive landscape changing virtually daily,” said Phil Tate.
CGA’s BrandTrack data estimates that for every five visits that were made to the on-trade last year, there have been three this year. This reflects caution after national and local lockdowns and the succession of new restrictions on socialising and trading – though as strong trading in the last week of October showed, core consumers remain eager to visit restaurants, pubs and bars.
This desire is only likely to increase towards Christmas.
CGA’s research in China found that 75% of consumers there visiting on-premise venues for the annual Golden Week celebrations said they were making up for missed celebrations earlier in the year.
There’s a similar pent-up demand for the festive period here.
“We’re being missed,” said Phil Tate, “People are missing being able to see friends and family in our venues, missing getting out of the house, missing the atmosphere and missing someone else waiting on them… they’re longing for us to get back.”
It’s one reason to be upbeat about December and beyond.
“As the expression goes, when you’re going through hell, just keep going,” he concluded, “We’ve got a hard couple of months ahead of us, but we genuinely believe the sector will pull through this crisis.”