Restaurant customers have overwhelmingly said they have been satisfied by safety precautions after dining out again following the coronavirus lockdown, according to new research.
Initial findings from Yumpingo’s We Hear You initiative to gauge consumer confidence in restaurants, bars and pubs have shown that 96% of people who have returned to restaurants were satisfied by measures in place.
However, industry leaders have warned that there is still a “significant proportion” of the restaurant sector which is yet to open.
Monitoring by trade body UKHospitality showed just 53% of bars and restaurants reopened during the first week of trading after lockdown, with revenues hitting 44.5% of previous levels at these sites.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive officer of UKHospitality, said restaurant operators need to gauge confidence of returning diners to inform plans to reopen the rest of their estate and to help inform policy for the sector.
“People sharing their customer experience is important to building further confidence”, she said.
“Businesses in the sector have always been very collaborative and this sort of feedback will help to inform best practice which can only be good for operators and customers.
“It’s clear at the minute that people are avoiding city centres so there is still a way to go in order to completely reopen certain areas.”
The initial data from responses on the We Hear You online tool from 4,866 customers also showed that 52% felt that their experience was not compromised by the virus.
When asked, 88% of those who felt their experience was compromised understood it was necessary, with 12% suggesting they would prefer fewer measures, it added.
Gavin Adair, chief executive of Rosa’s Thai, which runs 20 restaurants across the UK, said initial customer feedback was “positive”.
“Trade is significantly below where we were before but we are optimistic as we are pretty close to our expectations,” he added.
“Some of our restaurants are small and there are therefore capacity issues, but it seems like customers are getting more comfortable, although it’s still very early days.”
Yumpingo said it hopes the platform will be used by thousands more customers in the coming months to help monitor and track customer reactions to safety precautions.
It has also been backed by restaurant chains including Yo Sushi, Pizza Express and Leon.
Gary Goodman, chief and founder of Yumpingo, said: “As an industry, we all have to come together to support 120,000 plus restaurants, bars and cafes in the UK to make sure the industry rebounds as quickly as possible.
The sector responded brilliantly at the start of the pandemic, but the re-opening phase now offers up a new challenge.
“We hope that We Hear You will not only provide customers with a sense of confidence but will also relieve some of the pressure operators across the UK are facing with new guidelines and rules.”