Millions of Britons have taken full advantage of the government’s half-price meal plan over the past week.
And now an interactive map has made it easier to find the locations of the 72,000 pubs, cafes or restaurants participating in Eat Out to Help Out, which was used more than 10.5 million times in its first week.
Launched to boost the struggling hospitality industry, the scheme entitles diners to a 50 percent discount on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday meal this month. The discount is limited to £ 10 per person.
Figures from HM Revenue and Customs showed 10,540,394 claims were made in the first three days of the settlement last week, with diners getting £ 53.7 million of their food – an average of £ 5 per person.
Demand is so high that some restaurants are now fully booked for the first three days of the week, and hopeful diners report struggling to find a table in one of their local spots.
One tweeted: ‘No one can complain that this Eat Out To Help Out didn’t work. Literally just drove to about seven different restaurants in Essex and they were all fully booked. Except me anyway – I can moan while smoking. ‘
Another said, ‘Eat Out To Help Out clearly works … no table to eat in town tonight.’ Other restaurants tweeted that they were now ‘fully booked’, although some said they still had room at lunch time.
The Treasury set aside £ 500 million for the policy, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak described the take-up as ‘great’, saying the British were eating out in ‘large numbers’ and supporting nearly two million people in the sector.
Mr Sunak said: ‘Britons go out to dinner to help in large numbers. And they don’t just get a great deal – they support the nearly two million people who work in this industry. These great numbers show that our job plan is paying off. ‘
But not everyone shared the Chancellor’s enthusiasm. The reluctance of many clerks to return to the office is blamed for fueling the crisis in the High Street.
Question and answer: When is Eat Out to Help Out and do I need a voucher?
When will it be available?
It runs every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 3 to 31 August.
What is it?
50 percent off when you eat, up to a maximum savings of £ 10 per dinner. The company claims the value of the savings from the government.
Which institutions can participate?
Restaurants, cafes, bars or pubs; work and school canteens; dining rooms.
What are the limitations?
No discount on alcoholic drinks or service charges.
Do I need a voucher?
No. The discount is automatically deducted by the participating outlet. The savings can be used in addition to other offers and discounts.
How do I find participating points of sale?
Treasury has set up a postcode finder that will list outlets offering a schedule within a two mile radius – here
How about restaurant chains?
Ninety companies have registered to participate in the program, including McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC; burger chains such as GBK, Five Guys, Honest Burgers; coffee shops such as Costa, Starbucks, Pret a Manger, Caffe Nero; pub chains such as Wetherspoon, Fullers, Greene King, Mitchells & Butlers; restaurant chains such as Wagamama, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, TGI Fridays, Côte Brasserie, Franco Manca.
Pret A Manger and WH Smith, who rely heavily on commuters, were among those announcing major job cuts. This is one of the reasons Boris Johnson and Mr. Sunak have begged people to return to the office.
John Longworth, the former chairman of the UK Chambers of Commerce who now runs the Independent Business Network, said: ‘In my experience, restaurants were rammed at the beginning of the week so people could take advantage of £ 10 off a meal.
“But there are millions who refuse to return to work because they enjoy the ill-conceived leave arrangement, or are unreasonably afraid to return to work.”
Separate figures released by the British Retail Consortium showed that last week’s meal discount scheme caused a surge in the number of people visiting High Streets and shopping centers.
Between Mondays and Wednesdays – the first days of the half-price meal offering – the number of visitors after 6pm rose by nearly a fifth in High Streets, shopping centers and retail parks.
Meanwhile, the boss of food supplier Just Eat Takeaway.com said today that the government’s plan has not hurt his business.
Chief executive Jitse Groen said that despite the fact that takeaways are banned from Eat Out To Help Out, he sees little effect.
“Food delivery is rarely in direct competition with restaurant visits, and that does not change under these circumstances,” the Dutch boss said during a phone call to the press this morning.
Restaurants have limited capacity because they can only seat a certain number of people, he said. “We don’t think there will be any material impact on our numbers because of these emergency measures from the UK government.”
Mr Green said he was not personally upset that the Competition and Markets Authority has authorized Amazon to take a stake in its UK rival Deliveroo.
But he added: ‘I’m an entrepreneur, I don’t really care who competes with us. I think UK consumers must be angry that that happened. And that has nothing to do with Deliveroo, that has something to do with Amazon. ‘
Just Eat Takeaway.com processed approximately 257 million orders in the first six months of the year as takeout companies delivered food to people in lockdown.
The company said it had increased its revenues while adding a record number of new restaurants and customers to its system.
Dinners on Frith Street in London’s Soho last night while making the most of the Eat Out to Help Out program
Diners sit outside on Old Compton Street in London’s Soho last night while the Eat Out to Help Out program continues
Dinners on Frith Street in London’s Soho as people continue to make the most of the Eat Out to Help Out program
Dinners on Gerrard Street in London’s West End’s Chinatown yesterday as the Eat Out to Help Out plan continues
People enjoy a meal on Bateman Street in London’s Soho last night while the Eat Out to Help Out program continues
The number of active customers has increased from 44 million to 54 million compared to the same time last year. Customers also order more, according to Mr Groen.
The Dutch company said the comparable pre-tax loss was £ 109 million, on sales up 44 percent to just £ 927 million.
“Just Eat Takeaway.com is in the fortunate position to take advantage of the ongoing tailwind,” said Groen. ‘Based on the current momentum, we have launched an aggressive investment program, which we believe will further strengthen our market positions.
“We are confident that our order growth will remain strong for the rest of the year.”
Just Eat Takeaway is in the process of buying from US colleague Grubhub for £ 5.6 billion. The deal will likely close in the first half of next year, but Mr Green doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.
The deal makes the company one of the largest delivery companies in the world outside of China.
Which chains and restaurant groups are registered for the Eat Out To Help Out scheme?
Bakers + Baristas
Bannatyne Health Club
Bar + grills
Black Sheep Coffee
Boparan Restaurant Group
Coffee # 1
Company of chefs
The Cornish Bakery
David Lloyd Clubs
Deep Blue Fish & Chips
Dobbies Garden centers
Gourmet Burger Kitchen
Hall & Woodhouse
Joe & The Juice
Green hotels in Kew
Mitchells & Butlers
Morrisons – Cafe and Barista Bar
New World Trading Company
ready to eat
Revolution Bars Group
Selfridges & Co
Shepherd Neame Ltd
St Austell Brewery
The Ivy collection
The National Trust