Britons tucking into 50% meal discounts as Eat Out To Help Out scheme launches

Britons have begun dining at a discount as part of a Government scheme to try and boost the economy after the Covid-19 lockdown.

They made the most of deals offering 50% off eat-in meals at a range of pubs, restaurants and cafes under the Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

Hertford town councillor Jan Goodeve also thanked Chancellor Rishi Sunak for the discount on her breakfast at Tewin Bury Farm while Dorset councillor Jane Somper said she kickstarted her day with a discounted coffee.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council reminded people that anyone who was planning on booking a meal out to enjoy the discount must only go with members of their household.

The scheme gives customers a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum of £10 per diner, from Mondays to Wednesdays during August.

Vouchers are not required for those booking tables, with the participating eateries deducting 50% from the bill and charging the discount to the Treasury.

Independent stores and high street names such as Pizza Express, Costa Coffee and Nando’s are among more than 72,000 establishments who are taking part.

UK Hospitality said that its survey of business leaders suggests that 84% of restaurants are taking part in at least some of their locations.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls hoped that customers would be tempted back into the businesses which have “invested heavily” to make their venues Covid-secure.

She said: “Confidence is going to be key to securing the future of our sector and keeping jobs safe.

“We hope that as many people as possible take this one-off chance to have a fantastic experience at a significant discount and rediscover eating out throughout August.”

Coronavirus – Thu Jul 16, 2020
Coronavirus – Thu Jul 16, 2020

Around 80% of hospitality firms stopped trading in April, with 1.4 million workers furloughed, the highest of any sector, according to the Treasury.

Russell Nathan, of the accountancy and business advisory firm HW Fisher, says many companies fear that discounting will actively encourage customers to spend less.

He suggested that larger chains with a lower average spend may get the best benefit from the scheme.

Mr Nathan, who said the scheme had initially been “warmly received” by the industry, added: “Restaurants fear that the discounting will actively encourage customers to spend less, to fit within the limits.

“Many are already down to as little as 50% capacity due to social distancing, so the last thing they can afford is significant reduction in the average customer spend.

“Then on top of that is the admin of processing it and the deferred reimbursement at a time when cashflow is critical to their weekly survival.”