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CEBR – Eat Out To Help Out doing more to help UK’s return to normality than government guidance changes

Article Date: 2020-08-18

The Eat Out To Help Out scheme is doing more to help the UK’s return to normality than the many changes in government guidance have, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has argued.

Two weeks ago CEBR estimated the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in £2.3bn of spending in shops, pubs and eateries near London employment hubs being lost or displaced between March and June, as a significant share of the city’s workers continue to work remotely.

In August, this is set to reduce to a loss of £178m and Eat Out To Help Out will be partially responsible for the return of activity, CEBR said. The first two weeks of the UK government’s Eat Out To Help Out dining scheme has seen the number of people eating in restaurants from Monday to Wednesday increase by an average 26.9% year-on-year.

This compares with an average 21.3% year-on-year decline for Thursday to Sunday in the same period, according to data from restaurant booking service OpenTable.

One effect of the scheme is it has encouraged some restaurant-goers to eat out Monday to Wednesday, instead of during the other days, according to CEBR.

Looking at the annual change in diner numbers for the whole week commencing 3 August, on average the total was down 7.1%, compared with a decrease of 28.2% for the week before the scheme started.

Even accounting for the redistribution effect, the net impact of the scheme is a desirable one, said CEBR.

It stated: “The goal isn’t just for people to eat in restaurants, but also to get back into the habit of socialising, making non-essential journeys, and being surrounded (albeit not too closely) by groups of strangers.

It is arguably this push towards normality that will prove the biggest benefit of the scheme.

Judging by the restaurant visits data (and the sounds of clicking glasses and chatter in newly busy restaurant areas) it seems by restoring confidence and giving people a taste of the old normal, Eat Out To Help Out is doing more to help the UK’s return to normality than the many changes in government guidance have.”

Fish Friers