The number of people visiting pubs, cafes and restaurants has tripled in a month as Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has inspired workers to leave their house and spend their wages.
According to the Office for National Statistics, almost one in three customers visited eateries last week, up from one in ten a month ago.
The dramatic rise coincided with the launch of the Chancellor’s meal discount scheme, which gives diners 50 per cent off their meal up to £10 per head on every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this month.
Dishing out: 83,000 restaurants which signed up to chancellor Rishi Sunsak’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme served 10.5m discounted meals in its first three days
Evidence that households are eating out again – based on a survey of more than 1,400 working adults – will provide some encouragement for the ailing hospitality industry and the 2.9million people it employs.
Figures released earlier this week by the Treasury revealed the 83,000 restaurants which signed up to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme served 10.5m discounted meals in its first three days.
The hospitality industry has welcomed the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, but has raised fears about what happens when it closes at the end of the month.
But the report by the ONS suggested that people are generally feeling more confident about getting back to some semblance of normality.
In the last seven days, 95 per cent of adults left their home, and two in five adults said they were comfortable eating indoors at a restaurant, the ONS said, up from 27 per cent a month ago.
A willingness to head out and spend money also raises hopes that the economy will bounce back quickly, limiting the number of staff firms are forced to lay off.
A pick-up in consumer spending has helped shares in pub and restaurant groups mount a strong recovery.
Since August 3, Marston’s shares are up almost a quarter, shares in Wetherspoons are up almost a fifth, and The Restaurant Group’s stock is up by almost a third.
Despite the ONS confirming this week that the UK has plunged into recession, families are becoming more optimistic about their own financial position.
UBS’s index tracking sentiment is back in positive territory for the first time since February.
It follows signs that there is pent-up demand from families who saved through the lockdown.
New-car sales rose to 175,000 in July, up 11 per cent on the same month in 2019. And retail sales have bounced back sharply as shops have reopened.
But significant concerns over the prospect of mass redundancies when the Government’s Job Retention Scheme comes to an end remain.
The Bank of England, however, has said it expects unemployment to rise to 7.5 per cent by the end of 2020, almost doubling from its current level of 3.9 per cent.