Diners in Portsmouth splash the cash as restaurants reopen for indoor service
Portsmouth customers were happy to pick up the bill last week, figures suggest, as spending in restaurants rose when diners were allowed indoors.
But trade body UKHospitality said the end of all social restrictions this summer is critical to get the restaurant industry ‘off life support’, as revenue is still well below pre-pandemic levels.
Banking firm Revolut analysed the data of its 4,000 customers in Portsmouth in the seven days to May 23, as they sat down inside restaurants and cafes for the first time this year.
Diners spent 69 per cent more over this period than they did the previous week when only outdoor dining was permitted, with one bill coming to a hefty £525.48.
However, spending was still 37 per cent below a normal week in February last year before the pandemic began.
In Fareham, Revolut looked at data from 6,000 customers, and said they spent 80 per cent more than the previous week. The highest bill was £307.50, but over all it was 27 per cent below a normal week in February last year.
In Gosport, 4,000 diners spent 75 per cent more than the previous week – but 28 per cent below last February – with the highest bill £329.70.
And in Havant 4,000 of Revolut's customers spent 61 per cent more the week before, and the highest bill was £286.20. Spending in Havant was 29 per cent below a normal week in February last year pre-pandemic.
Spending in restaurants and cafes across Great Britain saw a larger fall – of 41 per cent – than locally.
Despite reopening, many establishments will be unable to have a full house until June 21, when all legal limits on social contact are due to be lifted in England.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is too early to say whether the easing of all restrictions will still go ahead as planned.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: ‘Current restrictions severely reduce venue capacity, so restaurants' ability to make money is constrained to well below pre-Covid levels.
‘Many restaurants have been permanently lost as a result of the pandemic and there are others that, after months of closure and trading restrictions, have not yet reopened.
‘A return to unrestricted trading on June 21 is critical and means hospitality businesses will come off life support and be viable for the first time in almost 16 months, and enable companies to bring more staff back.’
Last week also saw the reopening of many indoor entertainment and cultural venues, including museums, theatres and cinemas – though they too are operating at reduced capacity.
The UK Cinema Association said the opening weekend was the first to see more than a million admissions since March 2020.
Revolut data shows that spending on cultural activities such as cinema trips between May 17-23 was 68 per cent below a normal pre-pandemic week in Britain.
In Portsmouth, spending was 38 per cent down, with 35 to 44-year-old men the biggest spenders in the area.
Overall, Portsmouth residents spent slightly more on all activities over this period than they did the week before, including a 22 per cent rise on transport expenditure.