Since COVID-19, the social infrastructure in Ireland has been at a near stand still. With many pubs and nightclubs still closed, now is the time to reflect and discover key insights in order to succeed in the future. In this insight report, we examine what Irish people loved and hated about going out and how social infrastructure can improve.
Roughly 70% of young people visit a restaurant/bar 1 or 2 days a week, pre-COVID-19. Surprisingly, 15% said they didn’t visit a restaurant/bar at all. The most popular occasion to visit a restaurant/bar was at the weekend for dinner. Other popular occasions included dinners during the weekdays, weekday lunches and weekend lunches/brunches. The least popular was a weekday breakfast.
We asked respondents to name their favourite thing about going out to restaurants/bars. The most popular response was related to the social aspect of going out. Many young people commented about spending time with friends. A common answer also included the atmosphere of restaurants/bars, whether its the excitement or the change of scenario from their normal everyday lives. Another popular response was food-related, particularly trying new things and not having to cook/clean.
Despite these positives, respondents pointed out many areas for improvement. These responses were very diverse but a common theme related to cost, whether asking for better deals or requesting cheaper drinks. Another theme included the selection of food and drink, in particular, a number of respondents want more non-alcoholic drinks. People also wanted less crowding and cleaner settings, a suggestion that may have been spurred by the pandemic.
Most young people view the supply of restaurants/bars in Ireland has healthy, only 22% thought there was an oversupply, while another 19% believed there to be a shortage of bars/restaurants. When asked to rate Ireland’s social infrastructure ie restaurants/bars between 1 to 5, over half of the respondents (52%) rated the infrastructure as 4. 16% ranked the social infrastructure at 5, while only 1.59% gave 1. We also asked how much respondents enjoyed going out to restaurants/bars. 34% said “they really enjoy it”, another 46% said, “they quite enjoy it”. Only 2.35% said “they didn’t enjoy it all” while 3.82% said they were unsure.
43.18% of respondents said they only drink alcohol one day in an average week. Another 29.77% drink 2-3 times a week, though less than 5% drink more than 4 times a week. 1 in 5 (22%) of young people don’t drink at all during the average week. In terms of the amount of alcohol consumed, 49% consumed only 1-2 drinks on average. However, 1 fifth drank more than 5 drinks on average.
In regards to where people are drinking, young people are split evenly across locations. Home, friend’s house and licensed premises all had roughly 1 third of the share of people who drink regularly. Home does have a marginally higher share at 35%. This is reflected in how many days people who do drink, consume alcohol at home. 58% drink at home 1 or 2 days a week, though 33% don’t drink at home at all. Surprisingly though, the majority of young people prefer to drink in restaurants/bars, as indicated by 70% of respondents. Furthermore, 61% of respondents consume alcohol before going to a restaurant/bar.
The main reason why young people would drink at home was price, by and large nearly every respondent said it was cheaper to drink at home. Respondents also enjoyed the convenience and comfort of drinking at home but few ranked it as a fun/better experience.
75% of respondents went to late bars/nightclubs prior to COVID-19. Of those who went out, 38% of them rated nightlife in Ireland as a 4. Another 35% rated it as 3. However, when asked whether nightlife had gotten worse, better or neither, 43% of respondents said it had gotten worse. Additionally, 30% said it was neither and only 26% thought nightlife had improved over the last few years.
A common suggestion for improvement to social life in Ireland was to have later opening hours for bars/restaurants/nightclubs. Other related suggestions included better late-night public transport. Respondents also wanted more variety in venues/activities, as well as event nights and festival. Unsurprisingly, cheaper prices were another common theme. Interestingly, there were also many people who wanted less focus/dependency on alcohol.
For bars and nightclubs to survive after the pandemic, there are key steps that they should take to improve.