The lessons Britain’s restaurants can learn as Europe reopens

Linda J. Dodson

Analysts at Goldman Sachs have noted “tentative” signs of a recovery in Germany’s hospitality sector following a rebound in diners seated in restaurants and searches for holiday accommodation in the country.

According to data from online reservation platform OpenTable, restaurant bookings in Germany were up by almost a third on Monday this week compared with the same day a year earlier. Reservations also nudged up 0.3pc on the Sunday, sparking hopes of an early recovery for the hospitality sector.

The figures, however, should be taken with a pinch of salt. 

Many states in Germany have made reservations compulsory post-lockdown in order to maintain social distancing, making booking through websites such as OpenTable a more recent trend. Meanwhile the data is skewed to days falling on Germany’s bank holiday Whit Monday, the date of which was different last year.

As of Tuesday, reservations in Germany made through OpenTable had fallen again to levels 39pc lower than a year ago.

Germany’s hospitality sector appears to be taking social distancing in its stride. The country’s 1.5 metre rule is thought to be easier to maintain due to restaurants generally being larger in size, but there are fears it could force some smaller dining spots out of business.

Nigel Parson, a leisure analyst at Canaccord Genuity, says reducing the UK’s two metre social distancing rule to the World Health Organisation’s one metre guidelines will be crucial in allowing hospitality firms to reopen.

“The tricky bit is when you open up and you put 100pc of your cost back in place and then only the 75pc or 60pc of your revenue comes back, it just doesn’t work. And that’s the conundrum,” he says.

“Unless social distancing rules are reduced to a metre, I’m not sure you’re going to see a huge rush of operators looking to reopen.”

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