UK reopening weekend initial analysis: footfall down but spend up

This weekend saw further easing of lockdown measures in England, with the leisure and hospitality sectors welcoming guests back for the first time since March.

Alex Demetriou, managing director of Regency Purchasing Group which also owns and operates a number of leisure and hospitality businesses, including The Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare, said: “The Grand Pier was significantly down on footfall on Saturday (4 July 2020) against the same day last year, although a proportion of this will also be weather related, as the weather was better on the same day last year.

“Very interestingly, however, customers who did visit, spent more. Based on spend per head on Saturday versus the same day last year, food and beverage purchases were up by almost a third (32%), while retail purchases were also up by more than a quarter (26%). However, it was spend on rides where we saw the biggest increase, with visitors spending an additional 48%.

 “Based on feedback from customers, the reason for this could be that they are not keen to visit multiple sites. Where previously, customers may have visited The Grand Pier as a leisure attraction and eaten elsewhere, more people are wanting to only visit one venue. So, whilst leisure businesses may see significantly less visitors, early indications suggest that of those that do visit, they are willing to spend more.” 

Alex also believes customers will be seeking venues where they feel the operator considers their safety a top priority but acknowledges there is a balance between safety and satisfaction. “We also received feedback from customers that they were quite apprehensive about dining out or visiting an attraction, but having seen the measures we had put in place across our businesses, it helped them to enjoy their experience more.

“On reflection, while the first weekend may not have elicited bumper sales for all, I think it should be seen as a success. We at Regency operate and work with hundreds of businesses that opened and implemented very detailed and comprehensive measures to ensure customer safety and they were managed very well, even at the detriment of takings. I believe this is what the majority of the industry did, but it’s a shame there was very little coverage of the great work the industry did.”

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