United Kingdom

Dinner reservations, traffic and job adverts surge as lockdown eased

Restaurant bookings, traffic volume and job adverts have all surged as lockdown rules have been eased but 17 per cent of workers are still on furlough, according to new official figures. 

Data published today by the Office for National Statistics showed seated restaurant reservations in the UK were at 79 per cent of 2019 levels on April 12 - the first day the hospitality sector in England was able to welcome back customers.

On the same day, the amount of traffic on the roads increased to 91 per cent of the level seen in the first week of February 2020. 

Meanwhile, total UK online job adverts equalled pre-pandemic levels on April 9, days before the latest easing of rules, with the returning hospitality sector driving the increase.

Despite the evidence of Britain bouncing back from the shutdown, the numbers also suggested that a significant proportion of workers remain on furlough.      

Data published today by the Office for National Statistics showed seated restaurant reservations in the UK were at 79 per cent of 2019 levels on April 12 - the first day the hospitality sector was able to welcome back customers. Pictured: Soho in central London

The amount of traffic on the roads on April 12 increased to 91 per cent of the level seen in the first week of February 2020

ONS numbers suggested that a significant proportion of workers remain on furlough - approximately 17 per cent

Statistics compiled by OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation service, showed that bookings on April 12 were at 79 per cent of the level seen on the equivalent Monday of 2019. 

It is the first time the level has been above two per cent since the announcement of the latest lockdown at the start of January, according to the ONS. 

The data was based on a sample of restaurants on OpenTable, taking into account online bookings, phone bookings and walk-ins.      

New data also suggested the jobs market has rebounded after restrictions started to be lifted under Boris Johnson's lockdown exit roadmap. 

On April 9 the total UK online job adverts reached 100 per cent of their February 2020 average levels, based on numbers from the Adzuna online job search engine. 

That represents a three point increase from April 1 and it is the highest proportion of job adverts seen since the start of March last year, before the first lockdown was imposed. 

Much of the increase in job adverts has been driven by a surge in the reopening hospitality sector.  

Catering and hospitality job adverts recorded a 10 per cent increase since April 1, rising to 58 per cent of February 2020 average levels.    

Meanwhile, Department for Transport data published by the ONS revealed the volume of all road traffic on April 12 was up seven per cent compared to March 29. 

Total UK online job adverts equalled pre-pandemic levels on April 9, days before the latest easing of lockdown rules

The increase to 91 per cent of the level seen in the first week of February 2020 represented a continuation of a recent upward trend.    

However, the numbers from the latest ONS Business Insights and Conditions Survey suggested many firms and workers are still facing a long road back to normality. 

The new survey, which was live between April 6 and April 13, found that 76 per cent of businesses were trading while 21 per cent remained temporarily closed or had paused trading.  

Some 17 per cent of the overall workforce was still on furlough.     

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