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Consumer confidence and health & safety – the keys to the return

As European countries continue to announce the re-opening of shops, restaurants, bars and many leisure activities, new research commissioned by People 1st International provides encouraging signs that customers in the UK are ready to return if the correct measures for health and safety are in place.  The findings also highlight that the younger generation will be a driving force when it comes to kick-starting the retail, leisure and visitor economies.

Two thousand people aged 18 and above took part in the research, which focuses on the behavioural attitudes and factors impacting a return to leisure activities such as pubs and bars, restaurants, holidays, non-food shopping and visiting local attractions.

Asked about what would influence their decision to take part in these activities, more than half of respondents cited the importance of the following five factors:

  • Crowd levels (69%)
  • Ability to social distance (64%)
  • Confidence in infection control measures (63%)
  • Cleanliness and hygiene (61%)
  • Confidence that staff have been trained in these new measures (54%)

Whilst both men and women consider these factors important, women appear to be more cautious. For example, 73% of women are concerned about how crowded a location might be, 66% (women) are concerned about cleanliness and 60% of women want to be confident that staff have been trained in safety and hygiene.

The younger generation (aged 18-24)  appear to be spearheading the return and are by far the most positive across the board, whether with plans to spend more time with family and friends (60%), eating out more (34%), visiting pubs and bars more (30%) or doing more outdoor activities (48%).

Pubs & Bars

In a positive signal for pubs and bars, while Gen Z tends to drink less than older generations, two thirds (66%) of people aged 18-24 say that they plan to spend either the same or more time in pubs and bars, with 30% planning to go more often.

Despite being in a higher risk bracket for Covid-19, 42% of over 65s say they are planning to continue to visit pubs and bars as they did before, which is the same figure for those in the 35-44 age range.

More generally, across all age ranges, just over half (52%) say they will spend the same or more time at pubs or bars, whilst 29% say they would go out less frequently than before.

Restaurants

Younger people are especially keen to rediscover the pleasure of eating out, with 34% of 18-24 year-olds saying they plan to do so more often than before, a sentiment shared by 21% of 25-34 year-olds. Overall, nearly three-quarters (71%) of those aged 18-24 plan to eat out as regularly or more so than they did before, with just 26% saying that they will do so less often.

Overall, almost six out of 10 of those surveyed (59%) across all age groups said they would eat out as regularly (43%) or even more frequently (16%) than before the pandemic. Another positive sign is that half (50%) of respondents aged over 65 say that the pandemic will not affect how frequently they eat out, and a further 9% plan to do so more often. 

In terms of the economic impact on the sector, the good news is that 62% of people plan to spend as much or more than they did before on eating out.

Retail

On a positive note for high street retailers, despite the lockdown boom in on-line shopping, fewer than a quarter (24%) of respondents said that they planned to do less non-food shopping than they did before the pandemic, with three-quarters (75%) either reverting to their old shopping routines (62%) or planning to go shopping more often (13%).

Among 18-24 year-olds, the desire for retail therapy remains strong, with 76% planning to shop as much or more than they did before. Two-thirds (66%) of people said their spending on non-food items would remain the same, with 10% planning to spend more.

Surprisingly, among those aged 65 or older, 72% said that they were not planning to change their shopping habits for non-food items and just 19% said they would shop less for these - the lowest proportion of any age group. These figures might be explained by the fact that older people are less likely to shop online.      

Tourism

In a piece of much needed good news for the British tourism sector, almost three-quarters of those surveyed (73%) said they planned to spend the same (49%) or more money (24%) on holidaying in the UK. Rural areas are the winners here, with 20% of people more likely to holiday in a rural location.

With travel outside the UK on hold, it’s not surprising that 31% of respondents said that they are less likely to travel abroad than they did before or that 27% say they’re more likely to take a holiday within the UK than they were previously. In line with this, 61% say that they are as likely or more likely to stay in hotels and B&Bs than previously.

Post-lockdown, there will also be a surge of interest in outdoor activities. Almost a third (31%) of respondents are likely to do more outdoor activities, with this figure highest amongst 18-24 year olds (48%), while in the 35-40 age group the figure is 41%.

In other findings, more than a third of those surveyed (34%) said that they would be worried about the possibility of getting stranded in a destination due to a second wave of the pandemic, a figure that rises to over 40% of those aged over 55. A quarter (25%) are also concerned about fare and ticketing flexibility.

Commenting on the findings, Jane Rexworthy, Executive Director of People 1st International said:

These are encouraging findings in light of the challenges facing the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors. They also highlight that staff training to support health and hygiene beyond Covid-19 is critical to building consumer confidence.  At People 1st International, we’re helping businesses by offering WorldHost 2020, a new e-learning module to empower staff to keep customers and colleagues safe - helping assure business leaders that they can re-open their doors with confidence.

The WorldHost 2020 e-learning programme meets the professional standard for service operators which helps employers prepare themselves and their people to work safely and is being offered at a reduced rate of £5+VAT to make it accessible for all types of organisations during this difficult time.

David Sheen, Public Affairs Director of UKHospitality added: 

“It’s reassuring to hear how consumers feel about returning to pubs and restaurants and the industry is looking forward to reopening their doors in a safe way to their many loyal customers. These findings reiterate the importance of training your people in the new hygiene measures and social customer experience factors to a recognised standard, so having the Professional Standard for Service Operators provides an invaluable benchmark to ensure training meets a defined national standard.”

Find out more about WorldHost 2020.

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View a summary infographic of the findings:

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Professional standard for service operators

Are you looking for a practical checklist to ensure your training gives people the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed beyond Covid-19? The new Professional Standard for Service Operators helps you prepare your business and people to work safely. 

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WorldHost 2020

Empower your staff to keep customers and colleagues safe beyond Covid-19 & drive positive behaviours in a rapidly changing customer facing environment with our WorldHost 2020 e-learning programme. 

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