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September 1, 2020

Eat Out to Help Out transformed dining habits, app data shows

By Lucy Ingham

The UK government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme has had a transformative impact on when in the week consumers spend money on dining, according to data published by personal finance app Yolt.

The scheme, which was launched by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, allowed registered businesses to offer a 50% discount up to a maximum of £10 per diner on meals eaten in restaurants and cafes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the government reimbursing the cost.

It ran between 3 and 31 August, although some restaurants have opted to continue the scheme in September without government reimbursement.

This suggests that the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been successful for businesses, but data published today by Yolt highlights by quite how much.

It found that during the scheme consumers are spending up to 6 times more on Mondays than they do on the weekend, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays also seeing an increase.

On average, consumers spent 2.5 times more on the days the scheme was offered than on days it was not. Looking at restaurant transactions specifically, this rose to 7 times more compared to the weekend. Essentially, Monday – at least for August – has become the new weekend.

Eat Out to Help Out shows success, but can hospitality thrive without it?

While the scheme has shown success, not that it has ended there are serious questions about how much the struggling hospitality industry can survive without it.

Yolt’s data shows that is was very effective in incentivising restaurant visits, but now that it is over consumers may opt to remain home without the financial lure.

“The ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme was put in place to stimulate consumer spending in the hospitality industry, and our user data demonstrates that people have been supporting the initiative,” said Pauline van Brakel, chief product officer at Yolt.

“However, most telling is that this uplift has not led to an increase in spending towards the end of the week, and the question remains: now the scheme has concluded, will restaurants be able to survive?

“The desire to enjoy eating out is still there, but consumers are naturally cautious of overspending and seem to be looking for ways to make savings.”

Many restaurants, it seems have recognised this, and have opted to extend the scheme without government backing.

The website My Hungry Valentine, which tracks the restaurants offering the scheme in London, reports that around a third of those who participated are continuing with it in September.

However, with the R rate on the rise and fears of a second lockdown looming, it remains to be seen whether the extended scheme will be enough to keep restaurants afloat.

Read more: ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ serves up 14% rise in restaurant transactions, fintech data shows