SPENDING increased in Barrow’s restaurants as indoor services began again on May 17.

Banking firm Revolut analysed the data of its 4,000 customers in Barrow in the seven days to May 23, as they sat down inside restaurants and cafes for the first time this year.

Diners spent 25 per cent more over this period than they did the previous week when only outdoor dining was permitted.

However, spending was still 37 per cent below a normal week in February last year before the pandemic began.

Spending in restaurants and cafes across Great Britain saw a larger fall, of 41 per cent.

Despite reopening, many establishments will be unable to have a full house until June 21, when all legal limits on social contact are due to be lifted in England.

However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was too early to say whether the easing of all restrictions would still go ahead as planned.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Current restrictions severely reduce venue capacity, so restaurants’ ability to make money is constrained to well below pre-Covid levels.

“Many restaurants have been permanently lost as a result of the pandemic and there are others that, after months of closure and trading restrictions, have not yet reopened.

“A return to unrestricted trading on June 21 is critical and means hospitality businesses will come off life support and be viable for the first time in almost 16 months, and enable companies to bring more staff back.”

Last week also saw the reopening of many indoor entertainment and cultural venues, including museums, theatres and cinemas – though they too are operating at reduced capacity.

The UK Cinema Association said the opening weekend, 22- 23 May, was the first to see more than a million admissions since March 2020.

Revolut data shows that spending on cultural activities such as cinema trips between May 17-23 was 68 per cent below a normal pre-pandemic week in Britain.

In Barrow, spending was 48 per cent down, with 35-44 year-old men the biggest spenders in the area. Barrow residents spent three per cent more on all activities over this period than they did the week before, including an 18 per cent rise on transport expenditure.