UK pubs and restaurants need to find ways to reassure consumers over sensitive data

restaurant covid19

Following the UK Government’s guidance that foodservice outlets keep a temporary record of visitors for a period of 21 days, the country’s foodservice businesses are looking for innovative ways to allure consumers back and make them feel safe enough to offer their personal, sensitive data.

The UK lockdown has unsurprisingly been damaging to the pubs and bars and the restaurant industry, and forecasts expect the pub and bar sector to fall from an expected baseline value of £26.3bn to a slowdown £16.3bn by the end of 2020, representing an overall loss of £10.1bn. At the same time, the restaurant sector is expected to fall from an expected baseline value of £32.9 billion to a slowdown £25.2 billion by the end of 2020.

Elena Mogoş, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Although the government guidance is non-mandatory, it is important for the operators to have a robust system in place to adapt to any guidance changes, considering that a second wave is almost imminent. This can impose further financial strain, and cause increased anxiety among customers.”

Food service outlets in the UK need to be careful, as there have already been examples of privacy breaches abroad. For example, some New Zealand customers complained of receiving unwanted marketing emails after visiting foodservice outlets. This pushed the New Zealand Government to reiterate to the hospitality sector that it needs to use the contact tracing details only for COVID-19 purposes.

Mogoş continues: “With warnings from health officials that a second wave of infections is on its way, and with many consumers worried about their privacy, foodservice businesses need to find ways to make visitors feel welcome, safe, and decrease their worry of data breaches or violations of their privacy. One solution is using contactless payment, and ensuring customers order in advance, by using a mobile app where they can input their personal details.”

On one hand, according to a survey by GlobalData, 54% of UK consumers agree that they will pay for products or services only with cards or using their mobile phone, instead of cash. This offers foodservice outlets an opportunity to invest in contactless payment solutions, and, therefore, gather consumer information as advised. On the other hand, according to the same survey, 44% of UK respondents said that they will continue dining at home instead of going to the restaurant in the ‘new normal’ world too. Therefore, foodservice outlets must find innovative ways to encourage these consumers to come back and enjoy going out again.