Some seasonal cheer: retail & hospitality are giving customers a much more sociable experience.


December 7, 2021


James Odene

Our research shows that shop, pub and restaurant-goers find the experience a lot more sociable now compared to 2020.

The emergence of the Omicron variant in recent weeks has already started to impact business across the UK, with the hospitality sector taking a hit with cancelled Christmas bookings reported by pubs and restaurants across the country.

But ‘tis the season of good cheer, and our latest Mind the Gap research findings give reason for optimism as they indicate that all the hard work retail and hospitality has put in across 2021 for ensuring the customer has a great experience is yielding results.

Back in the summer of 2020, our research found that well over half (57.8%) of people disagreed that the retail and hospitality experience was more sociable than before the pandemic.

However, in Autumn 2021, that number has dropped markedly to just a third (32.9%). The biggest improvement in opinion is with pubs (62.9% down to 32.2%), followed by retail (58.6% down to 32.1%) and finally restaurants (52% down to 34.6%).

Drilling a bit deeper, it is interesting to note that of those pub-goers who now think the experience is more sociable than before the pandemic, the significant majority are male (59.6%), see graph 1, potentially the larger demographic to visit pubs overall. Across the retail and restaurant sectors, the demographic split is more even.



Adam Castleton, CEO Startle:

“Against the backdrop of an ever-moving landscape reminiscent of last Christmas, it is heartening to see evidence that the retail and hospitality sectors are doing great work to make their experiences more sociable. Especially at the time of year where, despite the public becoming all too familiar with social distancing, we enter the period that is brought to life by memorable social gatherings.”

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