Britian's Dining Subsidy Ends, But Many Restaurants Pledge To Continue

Posted: Sep 02, 2020

They say the British restaurant scene is uninspired. But the British restaurant subsidy scene? Highly innovative.

On Monday, the UK wrapped up a first-of-its-kind “Eat Out to Help Out” policy, which incentivized diners to eat out at restaurants bulldozed by the pandemic.

How? By taking a page from Applebee’s. For the month of August, the UK government paid 50% of the bill (up to $13 per person) for people to eat out on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Alcohol was not included.

Economists are right about one thing: people do respond to financial incentives:

- Diners spent up to 6x more on Mondays than on weekends, according to the finance app Yolt.
- In the week ending August 25, British dining bookings were up 31% annually, compared to +21% in Germany and -49% in the U.S., according to OpenTable.
- In the first three weeks of the plan, diners claimed 64 million meals (the population of the UK is 67 million).

Looking ahead: restaurants still face impending doom from cold weather, deferred rent payments, and capacity limits. But many found the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme so valuable that they’re going to continue the discount on their own dime.

By Neal Freyman
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