Its been a tough time for hospitality. No doubt about that. There has also been a reaction from cafe and coffee shop owners though. It has been tangible. UK coffee business operators have risen to the challenges of coronavirus. Are we seeing green shoots?
Coming out of lockdown…
Since lockdown ended social distancing and PPE are buzz phrases. Everyone is suddenly aware of these terms. The new normal. What has this meant for hospitality? It has lead to a reimagining of the retail store space. Ensuring staff and public safety is key. So too is a set up that works for customers. One way systems, counter screens, track and trace – all now also everyday things. Careful control of customer numbers too. All come with there own challenges. But we have also seen the UK public’s desire for coffee. Cafe culture is important to people clearly. UK coffee shops are currently more popular than pubs, restaurants and bars (Allegra 2020).
Government help and lots of hard work…
UK government support during this unprecedented pandemic cannot be overlooked. The furlough scheme has kept hospitality workers in jobs and teams of staff together. This needs to be acknowledged. In more recent weeks ‘Eat out to help out’ has also done much for consumers patronage. In turn consumer confidence, we hope will sustain.
The hard work, resilience and ingenuity of many hospitality workers must also be recognised. For many it has not been easy. They have continued to provide excellent service in very difficult circumstances and often in full face visors!
We have seen innovation in menu access with QR codes and digital ordering. This is something that seems to fit well with take out coffee especially. We have seen a return to table service also. In some cases the enforced systems needed may have offered a more productive environment. When customers have a clear expectation perhaps a queue is less off putting?
Where are we now? Green shoots for the coffee sector?
Clearly the situation is not fully resolved. The pandemic is not finished. Some interesting stats have come to light which are encouraging though:
A recent large survey showed “Maintaining social distancing is by far the most favoured way UK consumers are mitigating risk of coronavirus. 88% are opting for more regular hand washing. Using hand sanitiser, 88%, and wearing a facemask, 83%, showed the biggest increases in hygiene-focused behaviour since April 2020” (Allegra 2020).
34% of UK consumers polled did indicate they feel unsafe visiting coffee shops. So, it remains vital for coffee businesses to redouble efforts on in-store safety measures”. Making it clear to customers that everything has been done that can be is key. Demonstrating clearly that protocols and systems are being rigorously followed too breeds consumer confidence.
What does tomorrow have “in store”?
There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road ahead. Yet, the steps coffee businesses have taken and the efforts of all hospitality sector workers have certainly achieved a great deal. Here at Coffee Central we have confidence in and solidarity with all of our customers. We have seen good things and encouraging signs. So long as that continues we can say with confidence that there are green shoots – and QR codes.