UK consumers are predicted to bring a much needed boost to the high street by spending billions of pounds in the first week of indoor hospitality.

A study by the Centre for Retail Research and VoucherCodes predicted that 104 million people will head out to pubs, restaurants and cafes spending over £2.5bn this week. 

The news comes as the UK takes the latest step on its ‘roadmap to freedom’ with pubs, bars and restaurants allowed to seat customers indoors for the first time since December 2020. 

From Monday to Thursday this week, the Centre for Retail Research predicts that customers will spend £297m. Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be even busier, with 34 million people set to visit hospitality venues and spend over £815m. 

The predicted sales this week are expected to be much higher than May 2019, pre-pandemic. 

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for the hospitality industry with large periods of closure, so it’s particularly encouraging that this report forecasts a quick and strong recovery over the next couple of years,” said Angus Drummond, senior director of commercial at VoucherCodes.

The news will give a further boost both to the hospitality industry which has suffered terribly during the pandemic and the retail sector which will benefit from more customer footfall and longer dwell times. 

Yet while the spending will be welcomed by the industry, a study by AlixPartners found that just under a third (32.9%) of Britain’s pubs, bars, restaurants and other licensed premises had begun to trade again for the first time since the start of the last national lockdown — a total of just over 35,000 venues.

Hospitality and leisure operators are also concerned about the effects the end of the rent moratorium may have when it is due to end in the summer. 

Such businesses have said they will need more help from the government, with £2.5bn in rent arrears having built up over the pandemic. 

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said he doesn’t want such arrears to “cripple” businesses, but the government has yet to commit to any further help.