Remember, eating out is helping out
Column by Gareth Davies, MP for Grantham and Stamford
On August 3 the new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme was launched, aimed at supporting our many restaurants, pubs and cafes across our area.
The scheme, which lasts until the end of the month, is combined with a VAT cut for all hospitality, accommodation and attractions from 20 per cent to 50 per cent to boost revenues.
In the first two weeks of August we have rallied to the call, taken up the offer and helped many local eateries.
This week the Government announced that nationally so far, over 35 million meals have been served as part of the scheme, with over 85,000 businesses taking part across the country.
Figures released from the online reservation company, OpenTable, show that reservation bookings on Monday to Wednesday have jumped by up to +48 per cent compared to the same days in August last year.
Here locally I have been delighted to see that several restaurants, pubs and cafes have signed up with 44 at my last count in and around Grantham, including many local favourites such Everest Inn, The Green Man and The Chequers Inn.
Indeed, the scheme has been so popular I have struggled to get a reservation at a couple of places recently.
Of course, we should not ignore that some bookings will have shifted from weekends to earlier in the week in order to take advantage of the scheme, that is both understandable and to be expected.
However, as one landlord told me last week, it just shows how much we all love a good deal! After Covid, he said he is planning on adapting his business to continue to offer incentives to new customers to come in earlier in the week – in the past couple of weeks he has seen more and more new customers visit in addition to all of the loyal regulars he had before.
The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit by this awful coronavirus, with so many of our businesses having to close during lockdown.
This week’s announcement that Pizza Express in our town is closing is extremely disappointing and is in addition to 72 others in their chain closing around the country.
It just illustrates why it is so important we all get out there, eat out and help our local businesses as much as we can.
Eating out really has been helping out so please let’s keep it going to make sure that when we finally conquer this virus, we still have many of our local favourite places to visit with our friends and family.