Money and Finance

With three days left of Eat Out to Help Out businesses digest the impact

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 25 August 2020 10:16

With three days left of Eat Out to Help Out businesses digest the impact

It is three weeks into the four week course that is the Government’s Eat Put to Help Out scheme – and now businesses have had a chance to digest the initiative their reviews make for interesting reading. 

Few policies have been quite so radical and direct at attempting to drive the reticent among us into the arms of the hospitality sector to counter the economic impact of the pandemic. 

And few have produced such a unanimous thumbs-up from those it has been targeted at helping, albeit with one or two caveats. The scheme itself, runs today, tomorrow (Wednesday, August 26) and ends on Monday (August 31).

Find a restaurant that’s registered for the scheme here: Dine out in Gloucestershire on the discount scheme

Firstly, the wins are definite, but possibly only marginal, and secondly, what help will be there now the realisation is dawning there is no easy fix to the covid-19 issue?

David Orme, who runs The Find on Cheltenham’s Regent Street, said whil all attention had been on the discount eat out scheme, the Government had played an even more powerful card. 

“I would say the scheme has been good for us, although whether it has simply spread out the week’s takings is harder to tell. 

“It does seem to have brought us some new customers too. What I think has had the biggest impact is the VAT cut. In a sector where you might only be making10 per cent profit, to be able have a VAT cut of 15 per cent makes a considerable difference. 

“Our concern, now the likes of the World Health Organisation are saying the pandemic could be here for two year, and with the end of the furlough scheme coming in, is ‘what will happen in the New Year?’ 

“At the moment, while the Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been great, I am operating on a month-on-month basis.

Ian Connor, who managed The Miners Arms, Whitecroft, near Lydney with his wife, Christine Murphy, said on balance the Eat Out to Help Out scheme had been a good move. 

“It has been a doubled-edged sword. It has been really helpful in driving business to us at the beginning of the week. 

“But what we have found is that is has turned the week around slightly, with fewer people in on Thursday and Friday. 

“Perhaps, as we have plenty of tourists coming in anyway, it would have been more helpful for us personally to have itin October when the tourists have gone to encourage the locals in, but overallit has been pretty good.”

Back across the River Severn and up the Golden Valley to Cheltenham at Mister’s Cafe, Rex Gibbs had a similar story. 

“It has definitely increased trade on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but possibly that has decreased trade on Thursday and Friday a little. But,overall it is positive,” said Mr Gibbs, co-ownerof the Grosvenor Terrace eatery. 

At The Old Fleece, Rooksmoor Hill, North Woodchester, near Stroud, trade early in the week has been manic, with a relative dip on Thursday allowing staff to catch their breath slightly. 

And at the famous Aviator restaurant at Gloucestershire Airport business has, well, soared. 

Even with social distancingdepleting the number of seats it could offer – that number was still 35 or so outside and 45-plus inside.

Patricia Martin, who manages The Aviator, which is open for breakfast from 9am through to last orders for food at 8.45pm, said the early part of each week in August had been manic. 

The Eat Outto Help Out scheme was introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in July and is in operation today (Tuesday), tomorrow and Monday (August 31). 

This cut in the VAT rate from the standard rate of 20 per cent will have effect from 15 July 2020 to 12 January 2021. 

Mr Orme summed up the sentiment we came across sector-wide – plenty of positive energy, plenty of businesses very hard at work. 

“We are proving a resilient sector. We are pretty entrepreneurial and not afraid to roll up our sleeves and work hard, but the future is not certain yet.”

Find a restaurant that’s registered for the scheme here: Dine out in Gloucestershire on the discount scheme