Restaurant reopening by the numbers: first week of outdoor dining

Restaurants in England were able to open their terraces, gardens, and even pavements last Monday for outdoor dining for the first time since December. Previously only allowed to operate for delivery and takeaway, the 12th of April marked the first day that restaurants could actually provide hospitality to their customers.

And it’s certainly clear that customers were giddy with excitement. In fact, it’s been reported that 92 pints of beer were served per second in England on Monday despite rain, sleet and snow in many parts of the country. Reservations are incredibly hard to come by and the atmosphere in the streets is infectious. However, according to the Telegraph, only 2 in 5 sites have outdoor space that enables them to be open and for those with outdoor space, capacity is obviously reduced.

Saying that, we wanted to see what the sales numbers might look like, so we dove into the Tenzo database and looked at what the week of April 12th looked like compared to the equivalent week in 2019.

Percentage change in restaurant sales 2021 vs 2019

restaurant sales 2019 vs 2021

The first 4 days of the week saw sales hovering between -31% and -10% of those in 2019. This might seem low at first glance, but according to past data, sales for the entire first quarter of the year were -40% of what they were in 2019, so this is actually a marked improvement.

It’s also worth pointing out how much weather will affect sales over the next month. Case and point - it was bad weather on both Monday and Thursday and sunny on Wednesday and over the weekend for most of England.

The weekend numbers are very uplifting - despite the fact that capacity is limited to outdoor only when this wasn’t the case in 2019 average sales still increased over 2019 levels and by a large margin. Saturday in particular saw an almost 30% increase in sales compared to pre-pandemic and hopefully is just the beginning of the sales boom to come.

Percentage change in sales week of April 12th vs April 5th

We were also interested to see what the impact of reopening had on sales compared to the week prior.  Restaurant sales April 5th vs April 12th

Restaurants with like-for-like sales available (i.e. they were trading the week of April 5th) saw increased sales week-over-week meaning that the addition of outdoor dining did not mean a significant reduction in takeaway or delivery sales. It’s been a big question whether reopening would reduce the appetite for delivery, however, it seems that we’ve all got so used to that weekly takeaway that that trend isn’t going away any time soon.

The only negative growth we saw was on Monday and considering the previous Monday was Easter Monday and a bank holiday it is to be expected.

Conclusion

It was a great first week back and clearly showed the desire to get back to restaurants. With many diners braving pretty terrible weather to enjoy their first meals back, enthusiasm was clearly at a high. And with bookings still incredibly difficult to come by, it looks like this enthusiasm will continue for the foreseeable future.

We’ll be keeping track of trends over the next few months and reporting back on them, so make sure to sign up to our newsletter to be notified whenever we release new findings!  

Cover Photo by Barbare Kacharava on Unsplash 

Posted in Analytics

Elizabeth Norton

Written by Elizabeth Norton