Working lunches have bounced back after more office workers returned to the City following Freedom Day, according to new data.
Reservation platform TheFork UK has revealed a 26 per cent jump in lunchtime bookings following ‘Freedom Day’, or 19 July, when the government dropped its work from home message and the final lockdown rules and indoor capacity limits were lifted.
Commuters to the capital were the most eager for a business lunch with London topping the list for bookings ahead of Birmingham, Windsor and Brighton.
The platform looked at lunch bookings for the period 19 – 25 August in comparison to 9 – 25 July, with London experiencing a nine per cent increase in bookings.
Elsewhere, Colchester marked a 361 per cent rise in lunchtime bookings at restaurants, closely followed by Southport with 97 per cent and Bristol with 51 per cent.
Nationally, there was a 53 per cent spike in 3pm bookings with office commuters opting for later lunches above breakfast meetings.
There was also a 19 per cent increase in brunch bookings with mid morning meetings favoured over breakfast ones.
“With restaurant bookings for business brunch and colleague lunch bookings on the rise, it’s a positive sign that commuters are returning to the cities, revisiting their favourite haunts, and beginning to resume old habits post-pandemic, and we look forward to seeing this continue over the coming months,” TheForkUK regional director Patrick Hooykaas, said.
However, the City’s hospitality sector is still facing a labour market squeeze, with many EU workers not returning to the UK from the continent after Covid threats subsided as well as the ‘pingdemic’ which forced many restaurant and pub staff to self-isolate.