Eat out to Help out: Harrogate area diners claim 136,000 meals

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The Eat out to Help out scheme has been hailed a success for the Harrogate area with £931K being put back into the local economy.

The UK has 1.8 million jobs in hospitality and it is an important area for Harrogate, both for tourism and the conference trade.

Harrogate and Knaresborough

  • 153 registered restaurants
  • 136,000 meals claimed
  • £931,000 claimed
  • £6.86 claimed per meal

Nationally over 100 million meals have been claimed for under the scheme.

On 31 August – the final day of the scheme – bookings were up 216% compared to the same day in 2019 (OpenTable).

Stewart Moss, Group Director of Sales & Marketing for Cedar Court Hotels:

We were delighted with the Eat Out to Help Out initiative, especially in Harrogate where our recently installed ‘Tipi on the Stray’ benefitted significantly across those typically less busy days.

The scheme was a success from our point of view so far as getting ‘bums on seats’; more so in that it got people out the house again after such a difficult time.

Simon Cotton, Group Managing Director for HRH Group and Dean Sowden, Executive Chef at Scran
Simon Cotton, Group Managing Director for HRH Group and Dean Sowden, Executive Chef at Scran

MP said:

These are amazing figures showing the impact the Eat-out-to-help-out scheme had on pubs, restaurants and cafes.  It was a great way to kickstart the return to normality for eating out.

Here in Harrogate and Knaresborough there was a huge impact with 153 premises taking part.  In total 136,000 meals were purchased under the initiative at a total discount of £931,000.  That’s an average saving of nearly £7 for every meal.

Now the scheme has ended I have spoken to many constituents who were worried about eating out again.  Eat-out-to-help-out has given them the confidence to go out again having seen the brilliant safety measures put in place to keep us safe.

This was just one part of the government’s help for restaurants, cafes and pubs.  As well as grants for businesses while they were closed and wages paid for furloughed staff, VAT on food produced by eateries has been dropped to 5 per cent.  Many businesses are choosing to pass this discount on to customers so that the spirit of Eat-out-to-help-out continues.

Simon Cotton, Managing Director of the HRH Group said:

The Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been nothing short of phenomenal for the hospitality industry and it’s been clear to see that many businesses in Harrogate have benefited from it with reports of regular queues and waiting lists to try and get into participating restaurants during August. Owners and managers of restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafes have spent decades trying to come up with offers that would bring volume custom through the doors on the quieter days of the week like Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and yet Rushi Sunak managed to do it overnight on a national scale which has been a godsend to businesses like ours who are trying to recover from the loss of trade during lockdown.

Across the HRH portfolio which includes 6 sites in Harrogate, York and Kirkby Fleetham, we have seen our restaurants and pubs pretty much fully booked at both Lunch and Dinner week in week out. The type of diner has been fairly evenly split between those looking for an absolute bargain, choosing the lowest price dishes to make the most of the discount and not really upspending on drinks, to those who’ve used it to indulge on the higher spend items like fillet steak and buying a better bottle of wine than maybe normally, even champagne for a few, as they’ve seen it as a great way to celebrate being out at a subsidised cost. It’s also helped all those lockdown celebrations go ahead as we’ve had a lot of bookings for tables of 4 or 6 people who have been celebrating birthdays or special anniversaries which actually took place in April, May or June.

Overall it has to be hailed a complete success. One has to remember that virtually all venues are working on restricted and reduced capacity right now to deliver social distancing appropriately, so this scheme has helped make up some of that business that would have otherwise been lost. My only hope is that whilst August has been a very successful return to business, we are mostly a seasonal business in our industry and many are predicting a very tough winter ahead, so I would send a message to our Chancellor and say “thank you, it’s been amazing, but please can you do it all again in January!

On 31 August more than 100 million meals were eaten by diners, with the 84,700 establishments signed up to the scheme making 130,000 claims worth £522 million, meaning more jobs are being protected through people getting out and boosting the economy.

These numbers are likely to grow, with restaurants having until the end of September to claim back the 50% government-funded discount applied to bills.

On 31 August – the final day of the scheme – bookings were up 216% compared to the equivalent day in 2019.

And early signs show that despite ending, the scheme has continued to boost demand, with a 2 per cent  rise in restaurant bookings on Tuesday 1 September compared to the equivalent day in 2019, according to OpenTable.

There had been an upward trend in the scheme’s popularity since it launched, with 10.5 million meals claimed for in total in the first week, 35 million meals in the second, 64 million in the third and over 100 million by 31 August.

The scheme was used across the entire UK, with over 6 million meals claimed for in Scotland, over 2 million in both Wales and Northern Ireland and over 51 million meals claimed for in England by 27 August.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme is one part of the Chancellor’s Plan for Jobs, announced last month. Other measures announced to protect, support and create jobs include cutting VAT for tourism and hospitality by 15%, a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, which opened for applications this week, and an £8.8 billion investment in new infrastructure, decarbonisation and maintenance projects.

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Harrogate Informer