Coronavirus: Eat Out to Help Out ‘boost’ for UK high streets

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Two pieces of evidence suggest there was strong demand for dining discounts as the scheme began last week.

    There is growing evidence of a surge in diners taking advantage of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative, as it enters its second week.

    Retail industry figures credited a “boost” from the scheme for a rise of almost 19% on visits to high streets after 6pm between Monday and Wednesday last week, compared to the previous week.

    Springboard’s data also showed an increase of almost 10% during lunchtime trade on those days.

    
Coronavirus: Eat Out to Help Out 'boost' for UK high streets

    The scheme, aimed at supporting the hospitality industry following the coronavirus crisis lockdown, is only operating Monday-Wednesday during August.

    It offers UK diners a 50% discount – up to a maximum of £10 per person – on food and non-alcoholic drinks at participating restaurants, cafes and pubs.

    The discount is later clawed back from the government by the business.

    Springboard’s report showed shopper numbers across all retail destinations were 3.8% higher last week compared to the week before – continuing a gradual recovery in confidence since lockdown restrictions were eased.

    Separate data from money app Yolt suggested the beginning of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme delivered a 14% increase in people eating out.

    It is unclear when the Treasury plans to release official figures on the take-up.

    It has previously estimated the scheme will cost £500m but prove invaluable in preventing job losses across a sector so crucial to the UK economy.

    
Coronavirus: Eat Out to Help Out 'boost' for UK high streets

    It is hoped that staycationers will provide a lifeline to the wider hospitality industry though some experts have questioned whether the dining discount scheme will take demand away during traditional busy periods, such as weekends.

    Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard, said: “The jury is still out regarding the benefit of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which launched last week, although there were rises in footfall on each day between Monday and Wednesday from the week before.

    “It is clear that it was the post 6pm period that yielded the greatest rise in footfall, and also that smaller towns benefited more than large city centres.

    “As the scheme continues throughout August and more Brits enjoy staycations across the UK, time will tell if the government scheme provides the boost that retail destinations across the country require for business survival.”

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