Businesses are extending their opening hours to maximise the potential of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme after its first week saw queues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with ‘no negative knock-on impact for weekend trading'.
Gemma Simmonite, co-owner of all-day dining venue Gastrono-Me in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said: "We are beyond delighted that the anticipated drop-off of sales on Thursday-Sunday hasn't happened at all." She added: "[Customers] inherently want to celebrate the end of the week – it's in our DNA and even a super-saving August can't change that."
Tim Foster, founder of Yummy Pub Co, including the Wiremill Lakeside in Surrey, saw Eat Out to Help Out boost trade by 145% week-on-week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. A feared-for subsequent drop-off in weekend trading did not materialise, with Saturday an "almost a record-breaking day" and Sunday serving up "great trading", all combining to create "the busiest week we've had in 12 years".
Reflecting on the first full week since the scheme started, Nick Newman of the Philharmonic pub in Cardiff, said: "We were very pleased. Our first full week of trading was slightly ahead of what we'd forecast."
In London, Tom Talbot of Livelyhood pubs told The Caterer that trade across the group's six London venues been "consistent across the board" and that there "wasn't really any evidence" that the scheme had impacted on weekend trade. He added: "We were pretty consistent with our weekends."
While Angela Hartnett's Café Murano sites in London's Bermondsey Street and St James' have extended their opening hours to ease demand, having turned people away last week, as trading on the days topped that seen pre-Covid.
Elsewhere, pressure on operators caused by the popularity of the scheme became too much, with the Westleigh Inn near Bideford, North Devon, announcing it had withdrawn from the scheme. A post on their Facebook page said they had taken the decision to leave due to the "physical and mental stress" it had put them under.
Data suggests the wider ramifications of the scheme may have also included increased tipping, after tip-sharing platform Tipjar reported a 145% increase, with the average tip increasing from £4.42 to £6.45 last Monday to Wednesday.
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