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UK public rally behind coffee shops after national lockdown

After visiting family and friends, going to a café or coffee shop was the most popular outing made since the national lockdown was eased on 4 July 2020, Allegra World Coffee Portal’s nationally representative survey of over 3,000 UK consumers reveals. But UK hospitality businesses need longer-term government support to ensure a sustainable recovery

Visiting cafés and coffee shops was the second most popular activity UK consumers surveyed opted for when lockdown restrictions were eased on 4 July 2020, with 55% of those surveyed making a visit | Photo: Dan Burton 



55% of respondents said they had visited a café or coffee shop since the national lockdown was eased, second only to the 69% who visited family and friends. UK cafés proved even more popular than pubs, and bars & restaurants, which attracted 28% of respondents.
 
Of those who ventured to a café or coffee shop since lockdown restrictions were eased, 43% purchased take-away only, 22% opted exclusively to sit-in, and 35% did both. Further highlighting the enduring allure of UK coffee shop culture 22% of respondents made between five and nine visits, 21% called in twice and 17% made three visits.
 

Hospitality businesses need longer-term government support

World Coffee Portal observes strong café and coffee shop sales as a result of the UK government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ initiative and the temporary VAT cut on food and non-alcoholic beverages. 36% of UK consumers indicated the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme would encourage them to visit cafés and coffee shops more often, while 31% said the temporary VAT reduction would compel them to do so.
 
While these temporary schemes have been well received, just 26% of the British public surveyed believe the UK government has done enough to protect hospitality businesses during the pandemic, with 42% critical of its response. Reflecting a somber outlook, 51% of the UK public fear for the future of their local coffee shop because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
 
With the Eat Out to Help Out, VAT reduction and staff furlough schemes all set to end within the next six months, the fate of many operators remains uncertain and longer-term government support is needed to ensure the future prosperity of the UK’s cafés and coffee shops.

36% of survey respondents indicated the UK government's 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme would encourage them to visit coffee shops more often | Photo: Nick Fewings 



Social distancing, hand sanitising and facemasks are key customer concerns

UK café operators have stepped up to the challenge of reimagining store spaces to ensure staff and customer safety – 47% of UK consumers surveyed agree they feel safe physically visiting coffee shops during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, with 34% indicating they feel unsafe visiting coffee shops, operators must ramp up their efforts to enact, maintain and promote in-store safety measures.
 
Maintaining social distancing, 93%, is by far the most favoured way UK consumers surveyed are mitigating the risk of catching coronavirus, a 2% rise on April 2020. 88% are opting for more regular hand washing, up 3%.
 
Using hand sanitiser, 88%, and wearing a facemask, 83%, showed the biggest increases in hygiene-focused behaviour since April 2020, rising 28% and 61% respectively.
 
There is also a clear consensus of support for mandatory facemask wearing in most indoor public spaces, with 82% agreeing with the policy – 54% strongly so. Most consumers, 83%, would have preferred to have seen the policy enacted in the UK earlier.

81% of survey respondents have never used a coffee shop click & collect service | Photo: Dan Burton 


 

Technology is still no substitute for the real café experience

Just 5% of survey respondents indicated they used a coffee shop click & collect service both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 5% opting to use such a service since the pandemic was declared. A clear majority, 81%, have yet to use a coffee shop click & collect.
 
Beverage delivery from coffee shops has also yet to gain significant adoption. Just 3% of those surveyed had used a coffee shop beverage delivery service before and during the pandemic, with only 3% opting to have coffee shop beverage delivery since the pandemic was declared. 90% have yet to use such a service.
 
Nevertheless, those under the age of 30 are most likely to have interacted with a café digitally, indicating the rise of a new generation primed for seamless digital transactions in UK cafés and coffee shops.
 

Commenting on the survey findings, Allegra Group CEO and Founder, Jeffrey Young said:
 
“Cafés and coffee shops should be heartened by the wave of public support they have received since national lockdown restrictions were eased in July 2020.
 
“Nevertheless, this study indicates there are difficult times ahead for many businesses, and the extension of government support is likely needed to ensure the medium-term viability of the UK hospitality industry.”

 


‘Cafés, Consumers and Covid-19’ was a nationally representative poll canvassing the opinions of 3,000 UK coffee drinkers in July 2020.
 
For more information about this survey and other World Coffee Portal research, contact:
 
Hannah Heath, Marketing Manager
hheath@allegra.co.uk

Matthew Hill, Commercial Executive
mhill@allegra.co.uk

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