At The Morning Advertiser’s newly rebranded MA Leaders Club conference (Thursday 13 May) CGA managing director for UK and Ireland Jonny Jones gave an overview of how consumers were feeling about the sector as Government restrictions are beginning to fall away.
- Missed out on the conference? Catch up here
“The good news is, generally speaking, consumers have a positive outlook on the next 12 months with 57% feeling optimistic about the future and only 16% feeling pessimistic," he said.
“Optimism is slightly lower in the short term (next six months) with 44% feeling optimistic and 22% feeling pessimistic but there’s still a very positive view given the challenges we all faced over the past year.
“Part of that optimism is driven by the prospect of getting back out into the hospitality sector as 59% of consumers agree pubs, bars and restaurants positively contribute to their wellbeing and mental health.”
Driven by the vaccination programme, confidence is growing and Jones highlighted the impact this can have on the industry.
Confidence in returning
“Optimism is growing as the vaccine roll outs and Covid-19 case numbers continued to fall, a third (34%) of consumers are feeling more optimistic than this time last year and six months ago (33%) with only one in five (20%) feeling less optimistic,” he added.
“That optimism is translating into confidence in returning to the sector. Almost half (46%) of consumers feeling confident to return when surveyed in February.”
According to CGA data, this was up by 12 percentage points when compared to the start of lockdown three in January.
When looking at the individual parts of the trade, pubs were one of the places customers were most excited to return to.
Jones said: “As for where consumers are looking forward to getting back to the most, it’s restaurants (41%) that top the list with pubs (23%) not far behind in second place.
"These are the two most popular venue types in normal circumstances and over the past six months we have seen a marked increase in confidence in returning to venues lower down the list [late-night bars, nightclubs].”
Bookings in venues
Meanwhile, when it comes to customers making reservations in venues, no shows still account for a large amount of bookings, CGA data found.
Jones added: “Half (51%) of consumers more likely to prebook for food and more than a third (36%) for drinks.
“One-in-7 consumers admitting to not fulfilling a booking since April and one in 12 confessed to not letting venue know in time.”
When it comes to what pubgoers are looking for when they return to the on-trade, while safety is still an important aspect, the experience on offer topped the list.
“Quality of food and drinks (57%) is top answer on what consumers are looking for in a pub,” Jones said.
But when asked about how they want to order their food and drink, a number of consumers preferred a more digital approach.
Jones added: “Almost a quarter of consumers prefer to place orders digitally through their phone (23%) and almost half (45%) of these are 18 to 34 year olds.”