Cheers! Lancaster pub-goers drink up to 198 pints per minute on Monday
Lancaster pubs got a much-needed spending boost on Monday, new figures suggest, as thirsty customers were allowed indoors for the first time this year.
Trade bodies welcomed the further easing of coronavirus rules, but cautioned that the "fragile" hospitality sector is relying on all restrictions being removed before it can operate successfully.
Tim Tomlinson, chair of Lancaster Pubwatch, and landlord at three pubs in the city, said that pretty much every seat in Lancaster that could be reserved, was reserved.
Banking firm Revolut analysed the data of its 4,000 customers in Lancaster on Monday, comparing it to the average spend for a Monday in February last year before the pandemic began.
Lancaster drinkers spent more than twice as much on average on Monday than normal, according to the data – knocking back around 198 pints per minute at their peak.
The biggest spenders in the area were 25-34 year-old men, though Revolut said their customers tend to be slightly younger than the national average.
Lancaster customers shelled out less per round than others across the country – spending £10.04 per transaction, compared to the average of £12.86 across Britain.
Though one punter did spend a whopping £178.84 in just one purchase in a pub or restaurant.
Bars and restaurants in England were allowed to serve food and drinks indoors from May 17, following the return of outdoor hospitality on April 12.
Spending in bars across Great Britain was still 6% down on normal levels – which could be because thousands of pubs are still closed and those open have significantly reduced capacity, the British Beer and Pub Association said.
Tim Tomlinson said: "It's great to see that Lancaster enjoyed a busy opening day and I think all the businesses I spoke to would say their trade on Monday would agree with those stats.
"Pretty much every seat in the city that could be reserved was reserved.
"However it's not too surprising given it was the first day open inside with many groups taking the day off.
"Also the much improved weather after a couple of dismal weeks was a great boost for the sector.
It felt great to have people sitting, chatting in our pubs again and it bodes well for the future, but under the current restrictions most premises are still running at significantly reduced capacity and the table service rules mean we are having to work a lot harder and employ more staff to serve the same amount of food and drink.
"We really appreciate all the customers that are booked in for the coming weeks and everyone has got their fingers crossed that we can quickly return to genuinely normal service so we can actually start earning a living again and stop being busy fools. "
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said: "After some questionable weather during the last week or so, we know Brits are looking forward to being back inside the pub once more.
“This is by no means the end of the crisis for our sector.
"We need pubs fully reopened without any restrictions at all on June 21 if they are to survive and trade viably.
“The countdown to freedom, and recovery, is on.”
The figures also show the behaviour of Lancaster residents in restaurants and cafes on Monday.
Spending in dining establishments was almost unchanged from what would have been expected last year – compared to the average across Britain of 32% below.
UKHospitality said this week's reopening represents a significant step for the sector as a whole.
But Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the trade association, added the step closer to normality was "psychological rather than economic", as businesses are still operating with significant restrictions.
"That’s why we need the Government to stick to the roadmap and remove all restrictions beyond June 21,” she added.
That date is the proposed final stage of the roadmap out of lockdown in England, when all social restrictions would be removed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is no “conclusive” evidence to deviate from the schedule despite concerns over the Indian coronavirus variant.