Eat out to help out: Will it work?

By Alex De Boick

The government’s big, catchy initiative ‘eat out to help out’ kicked off on Monday, offering a reduction of up to £10 on food and drink (excluding alcohol) without the need for a voucher, discount code or minimum spend on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays only. Over 72,000 bars and restaurants across the UK have already signed up to take part in the scheme, including major chains such as McDonald’s, Nando’s, and Pizza Express.

The scheme is designed to revive the struggling restaurant industry, which has been so badly affected by the economic devastation in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as restoring people’s confidence to go out and spend money in their local areas, but will it work? It’s early days yet but there are some promising signs that its at least making some difference - one statistic suggests that 19% more people visited shops and leisure parks on Monday 3rd August than the previous Monday. It does seem to vary between businesses though. Some have reported booming amounts of customers while others have seen increases in bookings on Mondays-Wednesdays but reductions on the weekend.

Clearly, it’s too early to make any conclusive statements about the scheme but some have expressed concern that participating restaurants include fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and Burger King. Many consider this an oversight on the part of the government considering that this time last week Boris Johnson was outlining plans to help curb the obesity crisis in the UK. Offering such a substantial discount at already relatively cheap restaurants such as McDonald’s may encourage overeating with some people reportedly using the money to buy double portions.

While it’s true that McDonald’s and other fast-food firms are a big employer in the UK,