The Treasury has announced that over 100 million meals were covered by its ‘Eat Out To Help Out Scheme’, which ran on Mondays to Wednesdays throughout the month of August. Restaurants who signed up to the scheme offered diners a 50% discount off their food and (non-alcoholic) drink bill, up to £10 per person. The government then reimbursed these costs to the 84,700 eateries who joined the scheme. Establishments have until the end of September to submit their claims so this number is certain to rise.
The scheme was implemented to boost consumer confidence and increase sales in the struggling hospitality industry, which suffered several months of closure during the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown in spring this year. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced this week that the scheme had exceeded his expectations and would cost more than the £500m set aside in his July budget. While uptake of the scheme was initially fairly slow, with only ten million claims in its first week, the last week of August saw thirty five million of us eating out to help out before the deal ended. On August 31st, a bank holiday, online bookings were up by 216% compared to the same day in 2019, according to Open Table. This is a stark contrast to the month of July, where bookings were down 54% compared to July 2019.
Rishi Sunak said, “From the get-go, our mission has been to protect jobs, and to do this we needed to be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before. Today’s figures continue to show ‘eat out to help out’ has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.”
It is yet to be seen whether the hospitality sector will be able to retain this demand now the scheme has ended, although some restaurants have announced plans to continue offering the 50% discount at their own expense.