April showers, even if they are happening in May, have not deterred Britons from resuming their love affair with the pub.
Statistics from Barclaycard released on Thursday indicate that spending at pubs and bars this (working) week has been up 171% on the previous week.
Restaurants have also seen a boost to revenues, with spending up 58%, according to Barclaycard.
For the hospitality sector as a whole, spending is up 43% week-on-week, following the relaxation of rules in Britain allowing inside dining and drinking.
Not that last week was a particularly bad week by recent standards for restaurants; the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in the week top Monday, May 17, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners was at 73% of the level in the same week of 2019, compared to 60% the preceding week.
“It also continues the notable rise in seated diner estimates seen since pubs and restaurants first reopened in England on 12 April 2021, prior to which estimates were at 0% of their 2019 level. This latest week’s increase was in part driven by a notable rise in seated diners observed on Monday 17 May 2021, the day on which indoor dining reopened in England, Wales and Scotland,” the ONS said.
“In the same week ending 17 May 2021, the seven-day average estimate of seated diners in London increased by six percentage points to 43% of its level in the equivalent week of 2019. Meanwhile, the equivalent figure in Manchester was 124%, a notable increase of 22 percentage points from the previous week. Similar to that for total UK, these increases were in part driven by notable rises to seated diners in both London and Manchester on Monday 17 May 2021, coinciding with the reopening of indoor dining,” the ONS revealed.
Earlier this week, the online booking site The Fork (formerly known as Bookatable) revealed that 88% of restaurants on its booking system were open for business on Monday and that a record number of tables had been booked by diners for the first day of the grand reopening.
The Fork said bookings were 41% higher than on April 12, which was when outside dining became permissible in England again.
Martin Williams, the head of Rare Restaurants, which owns the Gaucho chain, described it as “a honeymoon period” for restaurants.
Speaking to a group of thirsty* journalists, Williams said: “There’s an outpouring of demand so we’re seeing lots of bookings from guests.”
Hurry up, Harry (we’re going dahn the pub)
Earlier today, Young & Co’s Brewery (LON:YNGA), which despite its name is a pubs and hotels group with no brewing interests, said in its full-year results statement today that outdoor trading in the 144 pubs that were able to open on April 12 achieved 85% of normal trading levels over a five-week period.
The rest of its pub estate opened for business this week.
“The board expects the business to get back to pre-covid-19 levels of trade and margins by the end of June, assuming the roadmap, and in particular the 21 June ‘freedom day’, is not compromised,” said Patrick Dardis, the chief executive of Young’s.
* Not confirmed but assumed