The Government-backed scheme, which officially wrapped on 31 August, allowed operators to offer customers a 50% discount – up to a maximum of £10 per person – all day, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on food and non-alcoholic drinks consumed on site since 3 August.
The scheme, which was dismissed by some as an ‘expensive, tokenistic gimmick’ when revealed in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘mini budget’, ultimately pumped an estimated £250m into the Treasury’s coffers and enabled 200,000 pub and hospitality staff to return to work from furlough early – saving the Government almost £150m.
What’s more, the taxman took an estimated £30m in VAT from additional food and drink sales during the scheme period, with additional sales of alcoholic drinks estimated to have boosted duty and VAT revenues to the tune of around £65m.
Off the back of the scheme’s success, pub groups such as Oakman Inns, Hall & Woodhouse and Arc Inspirations all pledged to fund the continuation of discounts available under the scheme throughout September.
However, a number of pub and bar operators have confirmed plans to fund their own EOTHO-style discounts for a second month despite the introduction of new trading restrictions such as a 10pm curfew and new customer mask requirements.
Groups offering EOTHO-style discounts
The Lost & Found, whose estate of six cocktail bars and restaurants spans Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and Knutsford in Cheshire, is offering 50% off steak and pasta every Tuesday until 10 November in their spin on the popular EOTHO scheme.
Additionally, Arc Inspirations, which operates 17 bars across the north of England under its Banyan Bar & Kitchen, Box and Manahatta brands, has also pledged to fund the continuation of the 50% customer discount during October after initially funding an EOTHO-style discount throughout September.
“The EOTHO scheme was very beneficial and provided a much-needed sales boost across our bars,” an Arc Inspirations spokesperson said. “It helped to reinforce customer confidence in dining out and we’ve now committed to extending the offer into October, continuing to run a 50% discount off food on Monday and Tuesday.
Nationwide operator Revere Pub Company has also announced plans to offer half-price steak every Tuesday until the end of the year across its 15-strong collection of country pub restaurants, with selected sites also offering two-for-one pizzas starting at £4.48 with discount applied.
Dorset-based brewer and pub operator Hall & Woodhouse also confirmed it will continue to extend a version of the EOTHO scheme in selected managed houses throughout October. Guests will be offered a 25% discount which can be redeemed between Monday and Wednesday against a new menu, which goes live in October.
What’s more, Whitbread, which runs more than 400 venues under its Brewers Fayre, Beefeater, Cookhouse & Pub and Table Table brands, will also continue to riff on EOTHO throughout October by offering two main courses from just £8.99 every Monday to Friday between 12pm and 6pm.
Made total sense to continue
Oakman Inns, which operates an estate of 28 pubs based predominantly in the home counties, has also pledged to continue funding customer discounts throughout October.
CEO Dermot King revealed that Oakman, which employs about 1,000 people, will extend its EOTHO-style discount, which still offers 50% off per person up to a maximum of £10 on food and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, to include the school half-term.
“The scheme was a success when the Government launched it and our guests have appreciated it too, so it made total sense for us to continue in September,” King explained.
“By extending the offer into October it allows friends and families to meet up safely outside their homes and give themselves a much-needed treat in these uncertain times.”
Additionally, 74-site operator Revolution Bars Group revealed it will offer half price food and soft drinks from Monday to Wednesday in its Revolution sites until 28 October. However, its Revolucion de Cuba sites will be ending the offer with their last redeemable date being 30 September.
But, the group has extended its brunch offer across both brands. At Revolucion de Cuba sites guests can now enjoy bottomless brunch every day while at Revolution Bars the same offer is available from Thursday to Sunday.
According to an update published on 3 September, the EOTHO scheme drove Monday to Wednesday sales across Revolution’s estate to 188.4% of last year’s takings with the four weeks to 29 August yielding a 77.5% increase on 2019’s sales.
Elsewhere, it was revealed on 1 September that JD Wetherspoon’s Stay Out to Help Out initiative, which replicates the Government-backed EOTHO discount, will run until 11 November.
Keeping consumer confidence up
Following the success of the EOTHO scheme at their pub, Star Pubs & Bars licensees Graham and Lindsay Croft, who run the Bulls Head at Coalville in Leicestershire, decided to offer 20% off food from Monday to Wednesday during September, October and November out of concern trade would drop off as a result of children returning to school, more people returning to work and the onset of winter weather.
“Sales in the first two weeks of September were well up compared to early week trade pre-lockdown,” Graham explained. “As more restrictions have been announced, it is now keeping business at pre-Covid levels, which we’re very happy with.
“The promotion provides an incentive to keep people coming out and that, in turn, keeps their confidence up – something we believe is going to be critical to maintaining trade over the winter months."
He added that with the new and changing rules and curfews the industry has to try everything to encourage people to keep visiting pubs.
“In terms of trading patterns, Thursdays are slightly quieter as a result of the offer but Friday to Sunday is as busy as ever, so overall, the promotion pays off," he continued. "Even with a 20% discount, we are still getting a decent profit margin.
“People are still taking the discount into account and opting for the higher priced dishes.”