Pub goers share 'new normal' expectations

New research has found that pub customer confidence is back to pre-pandemic levels.

New research has found that pub customer confidence is back to pre-pandemic levels and that pubs are now more important than ever to Brits, with 56% of pub goers saying they expect to visit the pub at least once week over the next 12 months.

More than a third (35%) of all pub goers believe that the role of the pub has grown in importance for them personally since the various lockdowns. This is significantly higher in the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket.

The findings have been taken from the ‘Return of the Pub’ report from KAM, in partnership with the BII, which is designed to understand the evolving behaviours and attitudes of pub customers following two years of global pandemic.

Compared to sentiment back in June 2020, pub goers now feel significantly safer visiting a venue, with three in four of customers saying they feel safe (with regards to catching/spreading Covid-19) when visiting a pub now.

Despite this, they still expect certain measures to remain in place ‘post-pandemic’. Outside of a continued vigilance on cleanliness, pub goers are still looking for venues to be aware of the number of patrons inside at any given time, with caps on maximum numbers, decent spacing between tables and outside seating areas all still desired by a quarter of guests. 

“It's a slow process of building back, but this is also done with a backdrop of seismic macro and behavioural change in the UK," says Anthony Pender, co-founder at Yummy Pubs. "Cost escalation, supply chain issues and labour shortage are one thing but the research clearly shows that we must also now adapt to a new consumer landscape with new habits brought about because of Covid that won't simply wash away. At the forefront of this is the hunger for exceptional experiences and an increased awareness of what constitutes value for money. This may be challenging for operators, but it is prevalent in the here and now and won't change. Mediocrity is no longer acceptable to survive; only exceptional will suffice.”

When it comes to which types of pubs customers will be visiting more of this year, the research shows a trend towards local and community pubs over town or city centre venues. Food-led pubs are also attracting higher footfall vs wet-led; 38% of pub goers said they are likely to visit food-led pubs more often over the next 12 months.

With the recent VAT increase, adding to the numerous other financial pressures that pubs are facing, the price of food and drinks in pubs is set to rise. The research suggests that most pub goers (75%) are expecting a price rise and that a fair price increase is likely to be accepted by many (80%). However, they are also well aware that price rises may mean they have to reduce their visits to pubs, with one in two admitting price rises may mean they visit pubs less frequently over the next 12 months.

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