Restaurant expenses revealed as Somerset people eat
Customers were happy to take the bill last week, the numbers suggest, as restaurant spending increased when dinners were allowed inside.
But the UKHospitality trade body has said ending all social restrictions this summer is critical for the restaurant industry to ‘go out of business’ as incomes are still well below pre-pandemic levels.
Banking firm Revolut analyzed data from its 7,000 customers in southern Somerset in the seven days leading up to May 23, as they sat down in restaurants and cafes for the first time this year.
Customers spent 75% more in this period than the week before when only alfresco dining was allowed, with a bill totaling £ 479.50.
However, spending was still 35% lower than a normal week in February of last year before the start of the pandemic.
At Sedgemoor, diners spent 21% more in this period than the week before (down 27% from February last year), with a bill rising to £ 316.57.
Spending at restaurants and cafes across Britain fell more sharply, by 41%.
Despite the reopening, many establishments will not be able to have a full house before June 21, when all legal limits on social contacts must be lifted in England.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was too early to say whether the easing of all restrictions would continue as planned.
Kate Nicholls, Managing Director of UKHospitality, said: “Current restrictions drastically reduce room capacity, so restaurants’ ability to make money is well below pre-Covid levels.
“Many restaurants have been permanently lost due to the pandemic and there are others that, after months of closure and trade restrictions, have yet to reopen.
“A return to unrestricted commerce on June 21 is critical and means hospitality businesses will go out of business and become viable for the first time in almost 16 months, and allow businesses to bring in more staff.”
The past week also saw the reopening of many venues for indoor entertainment and culture, including museums, theaters and cinemas – though they too are operating at reduced capacity.
The UK Cinema Association said the opening weekend was the first to register more than a million admissions since March 2020.
Phil Clapp, managing director, said: ‘Only around three-quarters of UK cinema venues are now open with many smaller venues not being able to do so in a sustainable manner given the limitations as distancing requirements social impose on the available capacity.
“The extraordinary number of sold-out screenings reported over the past weekend make it clear that the sooner these restrictions can be safely relaxed, the sooner a full recovery of the industry can occur.”
Revolut data shows spending on cultural activities such as trips to the movies between May 17 and 23 was 68% lower than a normal week before the pandemic in Britain.
In southern Somerset, spending fell 51%, with men aged 35-44 being the region’s biggest spenders.
Overall, residents of Southern Somerset spent 2% more on all activities during this period than the week before, including a 13% increase in transport spending.