Discount culture won’t save hospitality

Discount culture won’t save hospitality

Rishi Sunak pumped another £30b into our economy yesterday and as always the world (viewed via Twitter and Linkedin) was divided.

At first I thought, ok I can see that my clients and friends in hospitality will be pleased with the VAT reduction, but this move is designed to be passed on to the diner to encourage spending.

But the majority of businesses can’t afford to pass that saving on. They have been squeezed by VAT and what the consumer is prepared to pay for so long and on top of this so many venues have had to invest a lot of cash in getting post-COVID ready. They need that extra cash.  A quick Twitter poll revealed that 69 percent will absolutely not pass the saving on.

The second move – half price meals up to £10 is in my opinion only going to exasperate this problem. The industry is plagued by the discount culture that has been encouraged by high street brands and discount sites and we just don’t seem to be happy to pay full price anymore.

The first positive that came out of the pandemic was the hope that reduced covers and increased safety measures would put an end to this. It would mean that if restaurants have less tables they need the people sat at them to be spending enthusiastically. We don’t just want bums on seats we want open wallets – drinking Rioja not tap water.

As a consumer I understood this. I was happy to pay up front for my first trip out to The Parkers Arms in Bowland. I certainly wouldn’t expect a business that has been closed for four months to give me a discount.

The Chancellor wants us to spend, which I get – we need to get the economy moving. But discounted dining gives out the message that it wasn’t worth paying full price for in the first place and it is.

A huge amount of work goes into restaurants, cafes and pubs. Staff, ingredients, decor, drinks, menus, marketing, PR, recruitment, systems, heating, water, rent etc and as a nation we need to start to appreciate this.

I’m not a snob, I’m not saying we shouldn’t eat in cheap places – different people want and need different things. But even the cheap places need to be valued for what they are, not half of what they are.

Maybe we just give everyone a tenner a week to spend on eating out and let them decide what they want to spend it on? Surely that’s better than more discounting? What do you think?