Foodservice operators will need to provide clear reassurance about the safety measures they are taking in order to attract nervous customers back to pubs, restaurants and cafes.
New shopper insight from IGD found that two thirds of diners (63%) remain nervous about the idea of eating out, despite restrictions easing.
Concerns surrounding the health and safety aspects of eating out are the biggest barrier, with 81% of diners saying they will need to be confident about hygiene measures in restaurants before they consider returning.
Among those who are nervous about eating out, 71% say they will wait a few weeks before going to a restaurant despite the sector being open for business for more than a month.
“With consumers hesitant about going out to eat, foodservice providers will need to demonstrate the safety measures they are taking while providing a relaxing and enjoyable environment,” said Simon Wainwright, director of global insights at IGD. “Maintaining this balance is going to be exceptionally difficult for some operators with physical space constraints.”
Besides health concerns, saving money is one of the biggest reasons why people plan not to eat out with nearly half of those surveyed (49%) saying they will eat out less for this reason, rising to 62% among younger groups (18-34-year olds).
Shoppers are also enjoying the social benefits of eating at home, with 46% saying they will opt for preparing more meals at home for friends and family rather than going out.
Wainright said the findings demonstrated the opportunity for foodservice providers to offer “compelling in-home options at a good price [….] as well as takeaway or delivery services longer term”.
He said the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme should help create “some bounce back among those who cite cost as a barrier for eating out”.
The research is part of IGD’s ‘Shoppers of Our Time’ series which follows 30 households through Covid-19 and beyond, exploring their changing attitudes towards eating out and shopping post-lockdown.