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9th September 2020

Christmas isn’t cancelled, but reassurance needed to get tills ringing this festive season

Survey of GB consumers shows: 

  • 45% say the most important factor for choosing a venue for festive celebrations will be the level of COVID-19 safety precautions in place
  • 12% would be prepared to pay more for a limited capacity event and 11% for a pre-booked meal
  • 37% of 18-34 year olds already predicting they’ll go out more frequently for Christmas, or at least as frequently as previous years
  • Access Hospitality guide to the survey findings and operational guide available for free download at

LONDON, UK – 8th September 2020 Recent research carried out by data consultancy CGA in partnership with Access Hospitality reveals that 45% of GB consumers do not feel comfortable about visiting on-trade venues for festive celebrations. However, 82% of those who have been to a pub, bar or restaurant since restrictions were lifted, agreed that their overall experience reassured them enough to revisit leading to optimism for the sector arguably hit hardest by COVID-19.

Henry Seddon, Managing Director of sector technology experts Access Hospitality says: “In December 2019, 37.5 million GB UK consumers visited the out of home market and it hosted six of the top ten trading days for drinks for the whole year so the size of the prize this year, when trade has been so badly compromised, should not be underestimated. Christmas is certainly not cancelled, and the most pro-active operators will still be able to influence behaviour to maximise the crucial seasonal trading potential.”

The research shows that consumers expressed some anxiety and nervousness, but more than a fifth said that they felt hopeful about visiting on-trade venues during this year’s festive period, indicating that there is optimism to build on. A further 28% were unable to predict this far in advance or said that their plans will depend on job security and disposable income nearer the time.

Almost half (45%) of GB consumers identified that the most important factor for choosing a venue for festive celebrations was the level of COVID-19 safety precautions in place and a further 41% cited levels of hygiene and cleanliness. If operators are to set the tills ringing this Christmas and New Year, the single-most important step they can make is to put robust hygiene and other safety precautions in place and communicate the details to reassure guests and potential customers to secure their bookings.

Inevitably, the survey revealed variations between occasions and consumer groups, with Christmas parties expected to be a big casualty of this year’s celebrations, due to guidelines around social distancing and mixing with other households. Over a quarter (28%) of those who attended one last year said that they would not feel comfortable doing so again this year.

“There is a delicate balance to strike between different age groups and their levels of concern” said Seddon. “Younger consumers (18-34) are more inclined to visit the on-trade, with over a third (37%) already predicting that they’ll go out more frequently or at least as frequently as previous years, but 14% noted that their plans will depend on finances nearer the time. Customers aged between 35-54 are less optimistic, with over half (53%) expecting to go out less frequently than last year, or not at all due to COVID-19.”

“This latest research shows that although the GB on-trade visits are at a point where over half of its customers have now returned (55%), thanks to the help of Government backed schemes such as Eat Out to Help Out and VAT cuts, consumer confidence remains fragile” adds Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality. “With no clear date for a resumption of functions, events and entertainment, many in the sector face an apprehensive lead up to the festive season – so it is even more critical that we continue to see ongoing initiatives to help support the hospitality sector and critically UK’s third largest private sector employer.”

“Festive celebrations will undoubtedly look different this year” added Henry Seddon “but if operators can put customers at ease by having robust safety precautions in place, there is a great opportunity to fill venues and generate profit. Respondents said that they would be prepared to pay more for a limited capacity event (12%) or a pre-booked meal (11%) so hosts need to move away from the traditional large-scale Christmas parties and steer towards smaller, more premium occasions. A fifth of consumers (22%) are more likely to pre-book their festive visits than they did last year although only 15% have started to plan.

“The level of anxiety and uncertainty felt by consumers as we enter the winter season is reflected by 57% of respondents who can’t predict what they will doing for the festive season” adds Seddon. “It will therefore be key for operators to lead the way in helping instil confidence in their COVID-19 measures, as well as showing consumers what, when and how to book.”

With confidence being the most significant factor in hospitality this year, showcasing the measures in place will put consumers at ease to increase visits and operators have just 12 weeks to Christmas to reassure them that out of home is a realistic and enjoyable option.

Access Hospitality has compiled a report of the survey findings and recommendations for on-trade operators to prepare for the festive season in an online guide ‘The Twelve Weeks to Christmas’ which is available for free download at

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For Immediate Release:                                             8th September 2020

For further information, please contact    Kate Hempsall, Kate Hempsall PR & Communications

Obo Access Hospitality

+44 (0)7534 190241



About The Access Group

The Access Group has been recognised in The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2019 and is a leading provider of business software to mid-sized UK organisations. It helps more than 32,000 customers across commercial and not-for-profit sectors become more productive and efficient. Its innovative Access Workspace cloud platform transforms the way business software is used, giving every employee the freedom to do more. Established in 1991, The Access Group, with an enterprise valuation of over £1billion, employs more than 2,700 staff. For more information about The Access Group, visit: