Consumer confidence in China highlights challenge for UK pubs

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Safety fears: Chinese cities have opened up bars and restaurants again but many have said they feel hesitant to visit
Safety fears: Chinese cities have opened up bars and restaurants again but many have said they feel hesitant to visit

Related tags: Coronavirus

Insight tracker CGA has revealed the attitudes of Chinese consumers towards eating and drinking out of home, meaning UK pubs can look to their international peers for an idea of how the public will feel about visiting in the months after reopening.

CGA spoke to 2,000 consumers from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Wuhan and found that consumer confidence was divided, with almost half visiting a venue to eat and drink since the lockdown was eased.

Of the 48% who had ventured out to a restaurant or bar, more than half have made more than one trip.

Health fears

However, it found that many consumers who had remained at home would be cautious about visiting a hospitality venue for some time. Two thirds of those who had yet to go out (as of 7-11 May) said they did not plan to do so in the next month for fear of further infections.

Some 60% of consumers reported that some or all of their favourite venues had reopened after the lockdown was lifted simply to have to close again. This is a concern for pub and bar operators given the costs of both closing down and reopening a site with short notice.

The city of Shulan in north-east China saw a new outbreak of the virus last week, with a lockdown system in place again involving only one household member allowed out to buy essential products each day. This shutdown also meant the closure of all public places and many businesses.

Restaurants and other businesses have been taking potential customers’ temperatures upon entrance and asking to check individual’s digital health passes, according to Conde Nast Traveler​.​ A maximum of three people are allowed to sit together.

Chinese consumers reported they felt the most confident about visiting eating-out establishments, including mainstream and fine-dining restaurants. They said they felt the least confident about visiting more crowded places such as nightclubs and leisure venues. 

Split opinion 

CGA global CEO Phil Tate said the polarised opinions shown in the data highlighted there would be a difficulty in helping some consumers restore their confidence in visiting the hospitality sector. 

He said: “This even split in a market in which eating and drinking out was a previously fundamental part of daily life highlights the apprehensive nature of consumers to go out again, as well as the precautions required to persuade consumers back into the out-of-home market.

“With so many variables and unknown factors in markets yet to fully reopen, navigating a path to recovery and building a strategy is an undoubted challenge. However, understanding a consumer perspective from an advanced market provides a glimpse into the future and allows for insight into how target consumers will react and, therefore, how strategies can be tweaked for success.”

The UK Government has earmarked 4 July as a potential date that some pubs and bars in the UK could reopen, though this would likely involve social distancing measures being implemented.

The Morning Advertiser​ outlined how other countries have treated the reopening of pubs and bars​ after lockdown last month.

Read the latest digital edition of The Morning Advertiser​ – for free – by clicking here​.

Related topics: Events & Occasions, UnitedWeStand

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