London restaurants are still struggling to win back their customers
The number of people dining out in London remains below pre-pandemic levels months after Covid restrictions were lifted, with the shortage of tourists still hurting pubs and restaurants in the capital.
As the bank holiday weekend approaches, the number of diners seated in London is around a tenth below 2019 levels – although it is almost a third higher elsewhere in the country, including Manchester.
Data from booking site OpenTable shows London restaurants have experienced a difficult pandemic, consistently experiencing a slower and weaker recovery than the UK as a whole (see graph below).
In the week to August 25, the number of restaurants in London was 8% lower than 2019 levels. By comparison, they were 40% higher nationwide and 38% higher in Manchester, the other city in United Kingdom for which data is available.
Tony Sophoclides of UK Hospitality said London restaurants were suffering from a drop in tourist numbers and a reluctance to use public transport. He warned that the problems were being felt more severely in central areas of the city amid a slow return to office work and regular social activity.
“Downtown pubs are clearly suffering at a higher rate,” he said.
“But then again, in zones 3, 4 and 5, where people still work from home, those places are recovering faster.”