What will Autumn bring for restaurants & hospitality businesses?
Now it has officially wound down, many in the industry including trade body UKHospitality are urging the government to officially extend it into the Autumn and many operators themselves are working on self-funded or other versions of a discount scheme.
Others however are arguing that the industry’s post Covid-19 recovery shouldn’t be built on discounting alone.
Gemma Simmonite, owner of an all-day cafe in Bury St Edmunds said: “The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has had profound results for us.
“On most Mondays to Wednesdays through August we’ve seen a 350% increase year-on-year.
“Even while reaping those results we’re still concerned that the impact of extending the scheme could end up having a negative impact on the hospitality industry in the long term. Restaurants have to have a chance to find their equilibrium; to stand on their own two feet again.
“Discounting is a hard habit to break customers from; we have to help them appreciate the real price of a meal out and not only be turned on by cheap fixes.”
Gary Usher, Chef and owner of five Elite Bistro sites agreed saying that although the scheme has massively helped the industry, he was worried that the longer it goes on, the longer people lose sight of what food really costs.
Clouds on the horizon
As the season changes from Summer to Autumn, it’s not just menus and ingredients that will adapt to new circumstances.
September is traditionally rent month for a lot of establishments and even if they’ve been able to secure rent reductions or deferrals from landlords, many will have to pay – up to nine months rent on a quarterly basis – by the end of the month.
Without stating the obvious, this might not be possible for some of them.
Then October will roll around bringing with it colder days, darker nights and the clocks going back an hour. If there’s still social distancing rules in effect, restaurants will still be operating at a reduced capacity and depending on their location – those relying on the passing trade of office workers and commuters cannot count on them returning to the office five days a week anytime soon, if ever.
Data protection could also be a headache for some as they are required to be taking customers personal details to get in contact as part of a track and trace mechanism if there is a later Covid-19 outbreak.
Some have been leaving their registers open and on public display like a guestbook where details could be photographed and accessed by unauthorised third parties.
This is all without a potential second wave of cases or any local outbreaks centered around pubs or restaurants which could have a knock-on effect in consumer confidence to locations nowhere near the epicenter if people consider hospitality locations a threat.
Not many businesses look forward to a winter of discontent but it might be an achievement for some establishments to still be operating by then if Autumn doesn’t bring much improvement to their fortunes.
It’s one thing to battle against tough circumstances but another not to have a plan in case these conditions become permanent.
Together we can look at your options and help you decide what would be the best course of action for your business if normal circumstances can’t be resumed.
Instead of waiting to see if the change of season will bring a change of fortune, take a step to taking control of your own destiny again.