A total of 22 million people, representing 40.6% of UK consumers, have used or plan to use the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, according to a survey by data and analytics company GlobalData.
Driven by under 35s*, the increased number of people venturing out because of the scheme is set to benefit desperate retailers, even though consumer concern around COVID-19 remains high. However, despite this much needed boost, UK offline non-food spend is set to plummet 25.2% versus last year.
Retailers with stores in neighbourhood locations and on high streets will see the biggest impact from the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, with 60.6% and 45.2% of scheme users, respectively, planning to visit cafes or restaurants in these spots. Over three quarters of UK consumers (78.6%) remain concerned about COVID-19 and, as a result, are reluctant to travel unnecessarily meaning that retail locations that are more difficult to reach by foot or in a short car journey such as out-of-town shopping centres, will see less impact on footfall and spend.
Sofie Willmott, Retail Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Many British consumers are keen regain a sense of normality by utilizing the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, while obtaining value for money and simultaneously helping businesses to get back on their feet. Retailers located close to restaurants in easy accessible neighbourhood areas, will see the most significant boost with 76.6% of consumers planning to use the scheme during the daytime when shops will be open.”
Although the scheme will bring consumers back out to public places, it alone will not be enough to stem the flow of retail spend shifting online. GlobalData forecasts that UK offline non-food spend will plummet 25.2% in 2020, heavily impacted by stores being shuttered for three months alongside the additional, potentially off-putting safety measures required when visiting shops. Spend via the online channel is set to rise by 13.4%.
Willmott continues: “The pandemic has accelerated changes that were already happening in the retail market with shoppers veering towards digital shopping and away from physical stores, evident from recent announcements by key players Next and ASOS. Retailers including M&S and John Lewis & Partners have rapidly responded with plans to close stores permanently and make redundancies, as the major shift towards online caused by COVID-19 will not be reversed.”
*Data taken from GlobalData’s survey of 2,000 nationally representative UK consumers, aged 16+ conducted in early August.