With the government’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme coming to a close on Monday 31st August, diners and restaurant owners across the county hail the campaign a success in encouraging customers out of their homes and back into our cafes, bars and restaurants.

‘Eat Out to Help Out’, launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on 3rd August, ran throughout the month, offering customers the opportunity to claim 50% of their food bill, up to a maximum discount of £10 per person on a Monday to Wednesday.

Nationally, it is estimated that around 80 million meals were served as part of the campaign, with around 80,000 businesses signing up to take part.

With over 100 different places to eat in Guildford, the majority of the town’s national and independent venues all got behind the campaign, helping spur on our local economy and drive footfall to the high street and neighbouring roads.

Footfall counters operated by Experience Guildford, the town’s Business Improvement District, demonstrate the impact of the promotion, with average Monday to Wednesday footfall during the campaign period being second only to Saturday, and eclipsing Friday. The town also experienced increasing week-on-week footfall figures as the campaign developed momentum, arresting the overall year-on-year decline whilst demonstrating increased consumer confidence post lockdown.

Commenting on the campaign’s impact on trading in Guildford, Amanda Masters, CEO of Experience Guildford says;

“The government’s ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ campaign has provided a much welcome footfall injection to our town and revenue injection to the venues that operate within it. It has been wonderful to see the campaign gathering momentum over the weeks, and exceptional to see the amount of support that customers have offered our hospitality businesses by getting behind it. The UK hospitality sector has suffered massively during the Covid pandemic, and this nationwide campaign has been instrumental in galvanising the sector as a whole, whilst boosting staff morale in the face of continued uncertain times.

“It is for that reason that we urge customers to continue to support all of our food and beverage businesses, be that dining in or takeaway, to take advantage of the continued generous offers that many have introduced, and to not be a ‘no show’, which can cost restaurant businesses, especially independents, dearly.”

Following the end of the government-backed campaign on 31st August, many operators have decided to extend or run their own ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ campaign. National operators such as Bill’s, Franco Manca, All Bar One and The March Hare have all confirmed that they are continuing with 50% off food and soft drinks into September, as are independents such as Carmona Tapas. Food delivery platform, Deliveroo, has also announced an ‘eat in’ scheme, designed to encourage customers to order more takeaways. The campaign, which runs Monday to Wednesday throughout September, offers customers £5 off any order over £20.

Cllr Caroline Reeves, Leader of the Council, says:

“It’s been great to see so many residents and visitors in Guildford enjoying our diverse range of restaurants and pubs safely. The government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been fantastic for our local economy and hospitality businesses, and we’ve seen an increased footfall in our vibrant and historic town. It’s wonderful to hear that some of Guildford’s venues are continuing the scheme and offering discounted meals. We hope to see you all supporting your favourite venues during September.

Cllr John Redpath, Lead Councillor for Economy, says:

“Helping our local businesses and hospitality sector remains very important. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has been a difficult time for hospitality businesses in particular, and we will continue to do so as much as possible to help our local economy. Most recently we supported Big Mouth Guildford’s Bank Holiday Bonanza campaign to encourage visitors to support local retailers in Guildford. Since the start of Covid-19, we have issued 1640 grants totalling just over £22 million, as well as an additional £1.111 million in discretionary grants to 95 businesses.”

For an up to date guide of businesses extending dining offers into September, visit https://experienceguildford.co.uk/eat-out-to-help-out/