The government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme had served up over 100m meals by midnight on 31 August, at a cost to the Treasury of £522m, latest figures show
These numbers are ahead of original predictions and are likely to grow. Participating restaurants have until the end of September to claim back the 50% government-funded discount applied to bills for food and non-alcoholic drink, up to a maximum of £10 per diner.
There had been an upward trend in the scheme’s popularity since it launched, with 10.5m meals claimed for in total in the first week, 35m meals in the second, 64m in the third and over 100m by the end.
According to OpenTable data, restaurant bookings increased by an average of 53% on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the whole of August, compared to the same days in 2019.
In July 2020, restaurant bookings were down 54% on average from Mondays to Wednesdays compared to July 2019.
On 31 August - the final day of the scheme - bookings were up 216% compared to the equivalent day in 2019.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘From the get-go our mission has been to protect jobs, and to do this we needed to be creative, brave and try things that no government has ever done before.
‘Today’s figures continue to show Eat Out to Help Out has been a success. I want to thank everyone, from restaurant owners to waiters, chefs and diners, for embracing it and helping drive our economic recovery.’
The Treasury said there are early signs that despite ending, the scheme has continued to boost demand, with a 2% rise in restaurant bookings on Tuesday 1 September compared to the equivalent day in 2019, according to OpenTable.
Jes Staley, Barclays Group CEO, said: ‘Eat Out to Help Out has undoubtedly had a positive impact – our data shows that restaurant spend grew by 34% on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August compared to the same days in July.
‘The scheme has given the industry a real boost, and will hopefully support the jobs of many hardworking restaurant and fast-food employees across the country.
‘Consumer feedback was also very encouraging, with almost one in five planning to continue dining out more often to support the industry, and a similar number saying that they will return to restaurants that they would not have visited otherwise.’