UK pubs and restaurants without clear indoor safety protocols risk losing out on student spending boom as restrictions ease, UNiDAYS finds

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With indoor hospitality set to return in the UK from Monday 17 May, a study into behaviour and spending of more than 8,000 UK students by student benefits platform, UNiDAYS, has revealed that a quarter don’t intend on spending any money in pubs, bars and restaurants in the first week following the relaxing of COVID restrictions.

Wellbeing appears to be the main consideration, as 19% said that they still feel unsafe returning to indoor hospitality next week. Meanwhile 32% don’t feel safe to take a flight and 34% have reservations about going to large outdoor events.

The vast majority (85%) of British students support permanent safety measures at indoor venues – with over a third (39%) keen on hand sanitising stations, 17% in favour of mask wearing and 15% even in favour of showing proof of vaccination.

Josh Rathour, CEO at UNiDAYS, said: “You’d be forgiven for assuming that young people would be the first to rush back into crowded venues once they re-open and be the least likely to adhere to Coronavirus restrictions, but the results of this report highlight that Gen Z is far more considerate of public safety than people give them credit for. Gen Z has money to spend, with almost 40% of students surveyed saying they have increased their overall spend since non-essential retail opened on 12th April, but if we’re going to rely on young people to kickstart the events and hospitality sectors, it’s vital that they feel confident their safety is the number one priority.”

As the government announced that ‘cautious hugging’ would again be allowed from May 17th, the study also revealed that students are more looking forward to hugging their loved-ones (24%) than they are to booking a holiday abroad (20%) going to the cinema or theatre (21%), or even returning to University campus (5%).

The government’s decision to re-open campuses has also met with mixed reviews from students. While 38% said they were mostly happy with this, almost half (47%) claimed it was pointless as their in-person learning had already ended and 15% even said that they now prefer working off campus.