More than half of consumers (56%) visited a hospitality venue in the first 10 days following ‘freedom day’ this July 19, a UK Hospitality survey has revealed.

The survey, supported by CGA data, suggests there was a much swifter return to venues than after last year’s lockdown, when just 35% returned in the same timeframe.

In fact, the data suggests it took over six weeks for people to return in similar numbers in 2020.

The picture portrayed is one of growing consumer confidence in hospitality, with 45% of those who haven’t yet been out saying they plan to do so in the next month.

At the end of the first lockdown last summer, hygiene and cleanliness were the number one consideration for people when deciding which venue to visit. This year, that has slipped to fourth place behind price, convenience and quality of food.

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Despite this rise in consumer confidence, UKHospitality has warned that the industry remains in a fragile state with businesses fighting for survival on a number of fronts, not least the critical shortage of staff. The latest ONS figures released earlier this week show UK job vacancies at a record high, with the hospitality sector reporting a 10% vacancy rate – equal to 210,000 roles.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Eating and drinking out is safe and we encourage everyone to rediscover their favourite venues if they haven’t already. However, while rising customer numbers is welcome news, the hospitality sector is by no means out of the woods.

“Hospitality venues are struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels of revenue with staff shortages hindering their recovery. In order to rebuild, the sector needs the Government to put in place a supportive landscape which includes an extension of the business rates holiday until at least October and a permanently lower rate of VAT for the sector. Such measures will allow the hospitality sector and the people it supports to play a full role in the UK’s economic recovery.”