Gloom hits restaurants in London as customers remain wary of dining out
LONDON (UK) – Although businesses, including restaurants and pubs, have reopened in England, many entrepreneurs like the owner of Etta’s Seafood Kitchen in Brixton Village market, London, believe that customer behaviour has undergone a change during the prolonged lockdown.
Safety concerns among consumers in England hold back many of them from visiting restaurants since the hospitality sector reopened on July 4. Many restaurant owners express concerns about running out of business.
“I think people’s habits have changed. I think a lot of people as well are cooking more at home. And I just think, you know, everyone is still a little bit scared because I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” said Etta Burrell, who owns the seafood restaurant.
“It’s quite affecting us at the moment. It’s worrying, put it that way.”
Nomally, Brixton Village witnesses many people dining out, especially during weekends. Given the social distancing norms, customers are restricted even during peak hours.
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging people to get out of their homes, spend, and “enjoy summer safely”, there is very little change to make restaurant owners happy.
According to the British Retail Consortium bulletin, as on July 4, footfall in the UK marked the smallest week-on-week rise for any day that week.
Burrell said her restaurant had only 30% of the customers during the weekend compared to the same period in 2019 and on Tuesday night, there was just 7%.
In a survey conducted by Opinium on the day the curbs were eased, as much as 52% of people said the reopening of bars, pubs and restaurants was pretty much too soon compared to 24% who opined it was the right time.
Even before the pandemic struck, forcing the government to shut down businesses, the casual dining sector had been plagued with overcapacity.
Carluccios and the owner of Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge went into administration when the coronavirus outbreak occurred.
The government has come out with a $625-million “Eat out to help out” discount scheme, which offers half-priced meals from Monday to Wednesday next month. This is aimed at wooing more people to restaurants during off-peak times.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field