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Has the Eat Out to Help Out scheme been a success?

Has the Eat Out to Help Out scheme been a success?

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Has the Eat Out to Help Out scheme been a success?

The Government announced that businesses could register to take part in an Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which would provide customers up to £10 per diner (inclusive of VAT) off the price of food and/or non-alcoholic drinks on Monday to Wednesday throughout August, with the business able to claim back the discount from the Government. The aim of the scheme was to encourage diners to head out to restaurants and enjoy a meal, as well as protecting jobs within the hospitality sector as we return to some sort of normality following the national lockdown. 

How popular has the scheme been?

The first week of the scheme cost the Government £105.4 million, meaning over 10.5 million meals were consumed under the scheme at over 83,000 restaurants. Most diners were delighted with the discount and many ate out multiple times, confirming that the scheme had achieved its purpose. No doubt, many diners left the restaurants, happy with their savings, with little thought for the additional pressures and strains on the staff and businesses they’d visited.

How have businesses found it?

Some diners complained of increased wait times for tables and meals, which is hardly surprising given the immense pressure on front of house and kitchen teams who are required to abide by social distancing rules. Many kitchens are running with fewer staff and restaurants are operating with reduced capacity. Even simplified menu offerings couldn’t ensure diners weren’t kept waiting in some cases. The fear of not offering the scheme when their competitors would be, led to many signing up but, in some cases, it simply concertinaed demand to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This increased the pressure on the businesses and their staff as they continually operated at their full capacity, whilst leaving Thursday to Sunday less busy than usual. 

For many businesses in tourism and hospitality hotspots, August is traditionally a busy time and, with lockdown easing and the further rise in popularity of the staycation, it was already set to be a busy and stressful month before the scheme was even announced. Due to the added trading implications of the scheme and pressures arising on staff as a consequence, some businesses have made the decision to leave the scheme part way through the month. They found their regulars, who will be there to support them in September and beyond, had difficulty reserving their tables as they were being filled by people looking for a quick discount. So, business owners decided to look towards their long-term future.

What changes could happen if the scheme was brought in again?

Are we likely to see the scheme again as we head into the winter months? Perhaps, if we do, then businesses could be allowed a certain number of days to use the scheme, and to nominate their own days. This would allow them to choose the times most beneficial to them and their staff, and potentially offer customers a better experience.

Undoubtedly the introduction of the scheme was made with the best intentions but, as hindsight would suggest, some flexibility for the businesses may have been useful.

If you have any questions on the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, please speak to your usual
MHA Larking Gowen contact. You can find contact details on the Our People section of the MHA Larking Gowen website. Alternatively, call 0330 024 0888 or email enquiry@larking-gowen.co.uk

 

Martin Sanders

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