With the news of 35 million consumers using the Eat out to Help Out scheme hitting the headlines, it would seem the general feeling is that things are looking up for the hospitality sector. But what’s really going on? How is the Hospitality Industry really coping?

48,000 businesses have made their claims online and with no reported compensation issues so far, it’s been a huge success, surely? In some cases, yes it has been. Open table say that restaurants are 27% fuller on average Monday – Wednesday than they usually are in august. But what we need to remember is that venues are still operating with skeleton staff in order to stick to the government Covid 19 guidelines. How do you run a restaurant that is 27% busier with less staff than usual I hear you ask!? That is a question that many venues are still struggling to answer.

In Leicester, police presence has been necessary to manage the queues outside of their restaurants as people are eager to make the most of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme now that their local lockdown restrictions have finally been lifted.  In many coastal areas such as Devon and Cornwall, venues have had to pull out of the scheme as they simply cannot cope with the extra volume of customers at a time when they are already very busy – perhaps the scheme would have been better timed in October, when crowds at the beach have thinned and businesses are struggling for customers again.

What next?

The treasurer believes that the key to saving the economy post lockdown is down to the health of the hospitality sector. Now, whilst it really is great for us that we are the centre of his attention, more needs to be done to help.

Fears of a huge slump in numbers in September are understandably very high. Rent needs to be paid and the end of the furlough scheme is fast approaching.  With no response from the government on whether they will extend the Eat out to Help Out scheme, some restaurant groups have taken matters into their own hands. Gaucho Group and Brindisa restaurants have both said that they will be extending the scheme themselves into the autumn in the hope to continue to drive sales. They are encouraging other restaurants to follow in their footsteps in the hope to get the hospitality industry booming again.

Unfortunately for some venues this is all too little too late. We have seen many closures from both independent venues and large chains. Pizza express has announced that it will be closing 73 of its outlets, effecting 1,100 jobs. Tourist hotspot Cereal Killer Café has also announced that it will be closing both of its central London venues as it cannot survive in the New Normal. It isn’t all doom and gloom though; some restaurants are fighting against the tide and are working hard to open. Gordon Ramsey has announced that he is planning to create 50 new sites across the UK after his plans are apparently unaffected by Covid 19.

How is London coping?

This week I braved the Tube for the first time, boarding at Waterloo at 5pm and getting off at Leicester Square. Anyone who knows London will know that this journey at this time would normally involve a long wait at the platform to be able to even get onto the carriage, followed by 15 minutes of hot sweaty hell whilst standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers making their way home from work. This week however, I sat comfortably in a seat and shared the carriage with only about 10 other passengers.  Whilst this of course makes travelling around London far more enjoyable, this has a huge knock on effect to the Hospitality sector in the city centre.

Whilst other cities in the UK are starting to see their numbers creep back up to normal, this is sadly not the case in London. With Google not planning to bring its workers back to their offices until September 2021 and many other businesses  likely to follow, we could be looking at another 12 months of empty tube carriages. Could London Rush Hour be a thing of the past!?

Another huge factor effecting central London is tourism. The hospitality industry has asked the government to do more to attract people back to our capital. Free face masks on the tube, surprise celebrity pop ups and beer and gin artisan walking tours are all among the suggestions. And of course, theatre. Not only is the West End a huge tourist attraction in London and a hugely important part of British culture, it puts bums on seats in restaurants at 6:30 for pre theatre meals – just another reason in a very long list of why we need to save the arts.

“Central London has taken a huge hit. I am confident that we can get the Hospitality industry back on its feet but we need everyone to work together to achieve this. With offices staying closed and a far smaller number of tourists coming to the UK, it is down to local residents to get back out there and visit the restaurants in their capital city. We are so lucky to have such an incredible range of venues and cuisines and there is no better time to go out and experience it!” – Liam Norval, Hospitality expert and CEO at Posh Cockney

What can we do to help?

  • Book in advance. Make a reservation and if you can’t make it, let them know. It sounds obvious but unfortunately venues are being hit with a huge number of no shows.
  • Say yes to Track and Trace. No one likes giving over their personal details, but the quicker we accept that this is going to be a key part in our ability to move forward, the quicker we can get on with things. We need to prove to people that our system works and that we are doing everything we can to keep consumers safe.
  • Be nice to staff. This should need no explanation. Eat out to Help Out has left staff over worked and stressed in a time when they are already worried about the safety of being back in work. Be nice!
  • Keep washing your hands. Prevention is better than cure! Let’s stop the spread so we can avoid local lockdowns and keep our industry safe.

 

Emma Bolton | PR Assistant | emma@poshcockney.co.uk | www.poshcockney.co.uk