A UKHospitality survey, supported by data from CGA, has found that that 56% of consumers visited a hospitality venue in the first 10 days after reopening in July – a much faster return compared to last summer's reopening when just 35% returned in the same timeframe.
However, data showed that thousands of businesses were still struggling compared to before the pandemic.
The survey found that it took over six weeks for people to return in similar numbers in 2020. Of those who haven't yet been out, 45% said they plan to do so in the next month, suggesting growing consumer confidence.
Despite this, UKHospitality warned that the industry remains in a fragile state with businesses fighting for survival on several fronts, not least the critical shortage of staff. The latest ONS figures released earlier this week show UK job vacancies at a record high, with the hospitality sector reporting a 10% vacancy rate – equal to 210,000 roles.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "Eating and drinking out is safe and we encourage everyone to rediscover their favourite venues if they haven't already. However, while rising customer numbers is welcome news, the hospitality sector is by no means out of the woods.
"Hospitality venues are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels of revenue with staff shortages hindering their recovery. In order to rebuild, the sector needs the government to put in place a supportive landscape which includes an extension of the business rates holiday until at least October and a permanently lower rate of VAT for the sector. Such measures will allow the hospitality sector and the people it supports to play a full role in the UK's economic recovery."