Friday, 22 May 2020

If you reopen it, will they come?

Earlier this week, I blogged about a Twitter poll I was running about people’s attitude to returning to pubs post-lockedown. This has now finished, with the following outcome:

Ye Olde Fleece Inn in Kendal ran a similar poll with perhaps surprisingly different results: The figure for “I would go now” is 43% in my poll, but only 32% in theirs. However, if you take the first two options as being equivalent, it’s 64% in mine but a full 81% in theirs. Even so, if two-thirds of customers are willing to return, it should provide a reasonable foundation for business.

I speculated on whether attitudes varied according to how often people went to pubs, which could potentially distort the result. This prompted me to create a two-dimensional poll on SurveyMonkey breaking down the answers according to frequency of pubgoing. However, the result was that it made virtually no difference, with 71% being willing to return to pubs in July, with or without the weighting. Realistically, pubs aren’t going to open before then anyway.

(It should be pointed out that the free version of SurveyMonkey limits the total number of responses)

18 comments:

  1. It's going to be interesting. I'm not one for the middle class sneers about fast food, but I was surprised to see the queues filmed for social media for fast food drive thrus. I like a Big Mac but I wouldn't queue for an hour for one. Lots of people did. It must mean more than a quick tasty but forgettable bite to some people.

    As for hospitality. Many can see how the new rules may make for a miserable pub experience but it might be acceptable to some. You might see Spoons queues filmed for the twitter.

    Lots of beery types are surprised at chain pub systems that deliver an impersonal service and queue in return for a cheaper pint, yet for some that represents a bargain compared with more traditional systems. The new systems might turn out to be acceptable to many people and they may be willing to accept something you, I and others consider to be a substandard pub experience.

    We are about to find out.

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  2. The Daily Mail reported the other day that some pubs in London were open, serving beer in plastic pots to take out and drink in the street.

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  3. I think people are overestimating how long it will take them to return to normal psychologically. The risk of death to healthy under 30s is negligible. They will be back in a flash - many ignore the current lockdown. Following the smoking ban, I stopped going to pubs, but I responded to Duncan Bannatyne's gym member survey, saying I'd be back tomorrow if it opened, and I'm over 60. Perhaps, having smoked for 37 years before switching to vaping 8 years a go, I have a cavalier attitude to risk. We are now conditioned not to be near to other people, but seeing people mixing will quickly change that among all but the most cautious, or those living with vlnerable people. Were everything opened tomorrow, then within a fortnight the Arndale Centre would be back to normal.

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    1. Fear spreads faster than any virus. You just have to see the scared eyes behind the masks being worn by people in places where a mask is pointless, like outdoors or in their cars. They'll be persuaded back to normality when the media stops the daily onslaught of doom, and as you say, when they see others carrying on and keeping calm.

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    2. There's a huge divide in sentiment between those who are flocking to the beaches and National Parks, and those who are cringing in fear in their houses. The pub trade - and large swatches of the rest of the economy - will have to hope that the former outnumber the latter.

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    3. If the North Tyneside coast is anything to go by today, there'll be plenty of willing customers to go around. Without exaggeration, I can't remember seeing it busier since I was a kid, when people were still (just) flocking to Whitley Bay by the trainload.

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  4. We are now conditioned not to be near to other people, but seeing people mixing will quickly change that

    I'm sure that's true. The trouble is, the virus works much slower than social influence - if we lifted all restrictions now, a lot of people would see other people mixing on the Monday, go out on Tuesday, feel fine on Wednesday so go out again on Thursday... and get ill two weeks later. We wouldn't know for certain that it had been too early until two or three weeks had elapsed, by which time we'd be well on our way to a second peak.

    Having said that, it's two weeks today since "STAY ALERT", and nearly three weeks since the papers started telling us that restrictions were about to be lifted, and case numbers still seem to be coming down; we may be seeing light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. But I think baby steps are still the order of the day.

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    1. You're assuming lockdown has been particularly effective, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest it hasn't, and that a second wave is a given, which it clearly isn't, from the experiences of other countries.

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    2. We are where we are, but all the evidence is that the virus has now largely burnt itself out - like every other pandemic in history - and there are no signs of a second wave in other countries that have been unlocking earlier than us. So I don't see why we can't immediately cut the 6'6" social distancing rule to 3'3" and get businesses open earlier than the government timetable - non-essential shops next week and pubs, restaurants and hotels in the middle of June. And we mustn't forget that at present the economy is slowly bleeding to death, which in the longer term will inflict suffering on all of us.

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  5. I'm not sure you'll see scenes like this, however there is a pent up demand by younger people to get stuck into what young people do in summer.

    https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7u3bgs

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  6. Professor Pie-Tin25 May 2020 at 12:20

    Another weekend, another baying mob of Remain Twatters sharpering their pitchforks to attack two people who were suffering from a potentially fatal virus who deigned to consider the well-being of their four-year-old son.
    While a real-life baying mob of hacks and left-wing nutters break social distancing rules to gather outside their home to shout more abuse.
    The lockdown has driven people mad and turned Blighty into a nation of vile guttersnipes.
    The sooner it ends the better for everyone's sanity.
    I'd rather take my chances with the virus than endure this utter shitshow for the entire summer.

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    1. Not sure what any of this has got to do with Brexit Prof, but never mind, you won - get over it!!

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    2. A bit of pot calling kettle there, don't you think? Maybe the Prof will let go of the subject once the Remainers, nearly four years on, accept the result.

      And surely the primary motivation behind the Dominic Cummings business has been revenge for Brexit.

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    3. It's not still raining in Ireland is it, prof?

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    4. Professor Pie-Tin28 May 2020 at 20:28

      No,thankfully.
      The weather here has been exceptionally good for this time of year - I've certainly never had a home-based tan in May before.
      Having said that Ryanair are selling flights to Greece from July 1st even though Ireland,like the UK,is curently not on the list of countries from where tourists can visit.
      I trust Michael O'Leary's business acumen and he reckons this 14-day quarantine bollocks when returning to the UK will be knocked on the head in the next few weeks.
      I'm tempted.I love my garden and I go to bed most days shit-faced from gin and scrumpy with a very pleasant glow from the sun.
      But right now I'd really like to be sat in my favourite taverna necking a cold Mythos,nibbling on a plate of pistachios and looking out to sea.
      Actually,looking out at half-naked Scandanavian totty cavorting on the beach and hoping Mrs Professor Pie-Tin doesn't catch my eye.
      But you know what I mean.
      Strange and unsettling times.

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  7. The most revealing location is London where a shortage of public transport,engineered by the city's mayor,has caused people to travel without social distancing for several weeks,despite creating ideal conditions to increase the spread of the virus the number of cases has been in steep decline. This large scale study over several weeks points to a virus which is on its way out and there is no reason why businesses cannot commence reopening as soon as possible. where

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  8. before the lockdown on pubs was officially announced, pubs were desperately clamouring for the goverment to issue the lockdown notice, largely on the mistaken belief they had insurance that would cover them for a pandemic that didnt exist when they took out their insurance, but thats beside the point, the reason was they were taking an absolute battering on takings because whilst there were reports from London and Dublin on St Patricks day that the pubs were as full as ever, which was largely then attributed to the change to lockdown, actually most pubs trade had nose dived off a cliff, people were choosing to stay at home in large numbers.

    if pubs reopen, the furlough scheme stops, pubs will either have to pay all their staff wages again or sack them,some will make whatever restrictions get enforced work, some probably will end up closing by the end of the first month, and those running those pubs know it, but the fear of missing out will compel them to reopen hoping that people flock back in their droves.

    for any pub that sells food as a major part of business and however much we might decry it the gastropub is a mainstay in a lot of the tourist and rural areas, it will be a complete waste of time reopening

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    1. As I've often said, surveys on what people say they're going to do are not necessarily an accurate predictor of what they will actually do. But I'd say the number of people who have been keen to go to beaches and National Parks, and to queue up for KFC and McDonald's drive-thrus, suggests there will be a substantial number who in practice will be eager to return to pubs. What happens when non-essential retail is reopened from June 15th will tell us a lot.

      In retrospect, the government were probably wrong to advise people not to go to pubs and restaurants without actually telling them to close, but it was a pretty unedifying spectacle to see CAMRA actually urging the closure of pubs. The business interruption insurance issue was a red herring, as I posted at the time.

      When we went to Burton two weeks before the closure, the pubs were busy and there was no inkling of impending doom. I joked about seeing a lone Chinese student wearing a face mask on Sheffield station. By the following weekend, there was a noticeable, although hardly catastrophic, fall-off in trade.

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