Independent restaurants will see a 6% rise in visitors after lockdown, with 20% stating they’ll exclusively dine with them, tastecard reports

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With lockdown measures gradually easing towards a new normality, tastecard the UKs largest dining club, has conducted a nationwide survey of 8,266 of its members to identify the change in consumer dining habits and the future of the restaurant industry. 

During lockdown the nation has seen a rise of consumers voicing support for their local and independent businesses. tastecard research shows that this trend is set to continue once lockdown lifts, with 20% of people saying they will dine exclusively at independents, up from 14%. And although the report, surveyed in May 2020, suggests a 20% reduction in footfall, the industry is turning to independents to lessen the impact.

The research reveals 44% of people are planning to continue dining out as frequently as before and 11% plan to dine out more. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a level of uncertainty across the country, almost 60% of those who suffered from coronavirus said their frequency of eating out would either increase or not alter at all. Many of those who have been on the furlough scheme plan to dine out just as often (42%), whilst 13% hope to up their visits to restaurants. However, the self-employed will act more cautiously, with almost 50% planning on eating out less.

Despite being the highest risk age group during the pandemic, 60% of those aged over 70 are looking to get back out there and intend to hit the restaurants more than they had done. Distance will not stop Brits from travelling to their favourite restaurant, as results show that 76% of consumers are still willing to go the extra mile when dining out after lockdown. Respondents living in rural areas said they would travel an average of 19miles, in comparison to those in urban areas who would travel 10 miles.

Regionally, tastecard found that London, Wales and the West Midlands are planning on taking a more cautious approach after lockdown, with 50 per cent of those in the hardest hit areas planning to reduce dining out, after experiencing higher death rates during the pandemic. On the contrary, the North is most excited to regain freedom, with 60% of consumers planning on dining out just as much, if not more than prior to when lockdown measures were put in place.

Matt Turner, tastecard founder and CEO said “tastecard’s survey findings are undoubtably encouraging for the hospitality sector, showing our members are excited to dine out again. Many of our restaurant partners have already done a fantastic job at pivoting their businesses to continue to serve their customers. As we look ahead to a new phase within hospitality, we are working closely with tastecard partner restaurants to help them plan, innovate and address any potential customer concerns, so they’ll be ready to safely welcome guests back, as soon as they get the green light.”

A clear shift in consumer behaviour presents some expected challenges for the industry, however tastecard plans to work closely with its partners to maximise the opportunity seen within the survey results.

In the meantime, tastecard is currently offering members access to its ‘Staying in with tastecard’ digital hub, a platform created in response to Coronavirus. Restaurant partners, who are now providing delivery and collection services, are available to existing and new tastecard members, offering 2 for 1 meals or 50% off orders. Discounted access to Rakuten TV is included within the membership for the first time, as well as offers on the likes of flower delivery services.

All new members signing up can opt for the 60-day trial for just £1 and beyond that will be granted access to tastecard+ for the reduced price of £34.99 per year or £3.99 per month.