Consumers back the new National Living Wage

Pret a Manger has increased hot drink prices in response to the National Living Wage being rolled out.

Pret a Manger has increased hot drink prices in response to the National Living Wage being rolled out.

Operators across the eating and drinking out markets have been adapting to the introduction of the new National Living Wage—and CGA Peach data suggests that consumers look more favourably on brands that pay their staff decent rates.

The new minimum rate of £7.20 an hour for staff aged 25 or over—50 pence more than the previous minimum—came into force last Friday (1 April). Some in the industry have argued that the changes could cause major headaches for operators, but a few others—including Costa and YO! Sushi—have embraced the change by voluntarily rolling out the new National Living Wage to staff aged under 25 as well. Pret a Manger has meanwhile responded to the changes by adding ten pence to the cost of its hot drinks.

But while operators might be alarmed at the implications of the new pay rates, they should be mindful that the majority of the public is strongly in favour of the changes. CGA Peach research from October reveals that 78% of the British population think it is important that staff are paid a Living Wage in restaurants they visit—rising to 82% of those who use Pret a Manger.

Nearly as many people (69%) say they would be more likely to recommend a restaurant based on the staff being paid a Living Wage, rising to 76% of Pret customers. It suggests that brands need to be proud that they now pay better, and should do all they can to communicate that message to consumers—though it will be interesting to see if the resultant increases in prices at Pret affect the public sentiment.