• 89% of public want to see hospitality industry safety measures go beyond government guidelines
  • 56% of customers are unsure or lack the confidence that the government’s guidelines will ensure their personal safety
  • Customer confidence hit, with 96% of customers wanting to see venues rated in terms of their COVID-19 compliance
  • 89% would choose one venue over another if it clearly conformed to / surpassed government safety standards
  • 94% feel it’s important that industry experts advise venues on safety practices

A consumer insight report to assess the impact of COVID-19 on consumer habits has revealed that diners and drinkers may be slow to return to the hospitality sector as customer confidence takes a hit.

The Safe to Trade consumer insight report, designed to track customer sentiment around returning to food and drink establishments has revealed that half of consumers aren’t confident that the government guidelines will go far enough, with 96% of customers wanting to see venues rated in terms of their COVID compliance.

The consumer insight report comes from the Safe to Trade Body which has been formed by Shield Safety Group (SSG), alongside leading industry experts, to help businesses reopen safely and to increase consumer confidence as people return to the country’s bars and restaurants. Its findings reveal that 56% of customers are unsure or lack the confidence that the government’s guidelines will ensure their personal safety, let alone that of high risk or shielding friends and relatives. Half of respondents (51%) are yet to be convinced that the guidelines will protect those deemed high-risk / shielding.

Nine out of ten respondents would choose one venue over another if it clearly showed it conformed to, or surpassed, government safety standards; 94% of consumers would like to see industry experts advising on venue safety practices and 89% of guests would like to see outlets going above beyond any government advice, to provide maximum protection.

Expecting the announcement of July 4th for the reopening of venues the SSG pulled together a team of  industry heavyweights to grab hold of the mantle in May and form a body that has stepped in to create a new independently-verified COVID-19 safety standard, that fills the gaps not addressed by government – The Safe to Trade Scheme.

The Scheme aims to supercharge consumer confidence and works with outlets to ensure that their premises and teams are COVID compliant, going beyond government guidelines to help them deliver the measures that consumers have stated that they want to see in venues.

Safe to Trade is spearheaded by SSG, alongside a Governance Board of top-ranking industry experts, including John Barnes, the ex-Head of Local Delivery at Food Standards Agency; Geoffrey Podger, the former CEO of the Health and Safety Executive and Food Standards Agency; Dr John Holah, the ex-Head of Food

Hygiene Department at Camden BRI; Sterling Crew, the ex-Technical Director at manufacturers Peter Black and Kolak Snack Foods and Mark Flanagan, CEO of Shield Safety Group (SSG).

Shield Safety Group is the UK’s leading provider of Food, Fire and Health & Safety Software as a Service and employs the UK’s largest team of Environmental Health Practitioners. Its clients include Tesco, Stars Pubs & Bars and Interstate Hotel Management, and the Safe to Trade Scheme combines SSG’s award-winning software and app with remote risk assessment data-capture and remote audits, enabling a robust and rapid process that protects all parties.

Other features of the Safe to Trade Scheme include an advice line, eLearning and each individual outlet on the scheme is accredited against a safety charter built by a best in class expert board. Those who meet the standard are then awarded a certificate and window sticker to visually reassure customers that it is COVID-secure and more.

When a venue achieves approved status they are listed on the Public Register, designed to be a searchable database to help local authorities. Feedback by customers and employees is actively encouraged for continual improvement and posted anonymously on Safe to Trade website. This provides a unique feedback and ratings loop that encourages outlet managers and owners to adjust and adapt their practices, ensuring that their business stays COVID compliant and continues to thrive.

The Scheme, which launched in May, already has thousands of venues signed up, with hundreds more joining on a weekly basis.
Mark Flanagan, CEO at Shield Safety Group, which administrates the Safe to Trade Scheme, and who heads up the Scheme’s Governance Board explains: “The hospitality industry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next six to 12 months businesses in the sector are going to have to re-think how they engage with and reassure their loyal customers if they are to quickly start to regain lost revenue, as well as reassure both colleagues and customers.

“It’s clear from the Safe to Trade insight report that consumers don’t trust the government to go far enough to ensure their safety. If consumer confidence is to be supercharged and customers are to come back through the doors in serious numbers, then the industry is going to have to grab the bull by the horns and demonstrate that restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels are COVID-safe spaces. Consumers are demanding more and the hospitality businesses that will win, in the ‘new normal’, will be the ones that listen, respond and make the customer feel safe.”

SSG is a leading provider of health, safety and risk management services including food safety, fire safety, Assured Advice, and consultancy services, alongside software solutions. The award-winning firm has over 1,400 clients all over the UK, including Tesco, Stars Pubs & Bars and Interstate Hotel Management. They also work with a large number of public sector organisations.

Find out more about the Safe to Trade Scheme at