Return of the pub

Return of the Pub – What to expect when pubs re-open.

KAM’s brand-new research study – Return of the Pub – is designed to understand the future behaviours and attitudes of UK pub customers when pubs re-open. Feedback from 1,000+ pub customers has revealed that many can’t wait to get back to the pub when lockdown measures are eased.

Younger people will play a significant role in pub re-opening

The research found that 1 in 3 of those aged between 18 and 34 expect to visit pubs more often after lockdown than they did before. The study, from KAM Media, in association with the BII and supported by Toggle, found that Generation Z and younger Millennials in particular are keen for pubs to re-open. 52% of respondents aged between 18-34 say they plan to visit a pub at least once a week when lockdown measures lift.

Generation Z and younger Millennials in particular are keen for pubs to re-open

The study shows that a customer’s age has a significant impact on their attitude towards returning to the pub. A third of people under 34 years (arguably the age group least at risk from Covid-19) plan to spend more time and more money per visit compared with just 6% of those over 55 years old.

There is definitely a significant group of younger customers who will be relieved when pubs finally re-open their doors, which is cause to celebrate! However, overall the pub industry is going to have to work hard to gain their customers’ confidence.

It’s no surprise that older customers are generally much more cautious – overall the main reason given for reducing their pub visits was “I’m worried for my health”. And for many younger customers, financial concerns will impact whether they choose to spend money on eating and drinking out.

Young people in pub

Overall pubs will obviously see a decline in footfall

The research suggests that overall customers intend to visit pubs around 12% less often. Remember this is current intention and doesn’t take into account that some establishments may not re-open and one bad experience will no doubt affect these intentions.

This equates to a loss of approximately 200 million pub visits, by regular pub goers, to UK pubs over the next six months.

Pubs will obviously be impacted very differently depending on their customer base, location and whether they are food or drink-focussed. Unfortunately, the types of pubs which may suffer the most initially are food-led and city centre locations – 48% of respondents say they intend to visit city centre pubs less often.

People will visit pubs for different reasons

Pub goers say the reasons that they will visit a pub will change slightly too. Pubs are likely to see fewer business meetings and remote working (at least to begin with.) Live sports in pubs is another key area that will be negatively impacted.

The research identified opportunities for pubs to pivot their businesses too with a surge in customer demand for home delivery and gift vouchers, and also opportunities to develop their offer via digital solutions.

The Devonshire Arms has made national press after signing up with the platform Toggle in lockdown. A single location, they’ve been amazingly successful with it, selling £25,000 of gift vouchers over April while their doors were closed!

Steven Alton, CEO at the BII commented on the research, which was run in association with the BII: “The events over recent months have presented our great pubs with the most significant challenge they have ever faced.  As we look towards reopening our pubs, our members have shared their biggest challenges; ability to adapt traditional pubs to Government re-opening requirements, the very real issues of the initial trading being unprofitable and significant concerns over how confident customers will be in returning to the pub. We have no doubt that our members will adapt their approach to ensure the safety of their customers and teams is balanced with a great pub experience.

For more information on the Return of the Pub report click here.


Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).