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Improved Medium Term Outlook For The UK Eating Out Market

Allegra-FoodserviceEating out involvement amongst the UK adult population has increased for two straight quarters for the first time since 2012.  Although there has been a marginal decline since Q2 2012, Allegra Foodservice expects that with rising consumer confidence, eating out participation will improve further over the second half of the year.

Despite this, Allegra’s latest study, the Eating Out in the UK report reveals that eating out frequency is down from 2012 across all day-parts, with the average number of meals consumed out of home per person lower in Q2 2014 than Q2 2012 across all day-parts.

The decline has been more marked in lunch and dinner than breakfast.  Allegra suggests that even as the economy shows growing signs of recovery, consumers are still feeling the pressure on their wallets and spending power.     

While frequency has decreased for breakfast, lunch and dinner since Q2 2012, average spend is up across all day-parts.  Rising input costs are driving up prices, and many consumers treat eating out as an indulgence worth spending money on.  Consumers’ reported spending increases are highest at the lunch day-part in both percentage and absolute terms, with numbers bolstered by the inclusion of weekday and weekend figures.

Younger demographics are eating out significantly more than older ones, with the average number of meals eaten out sitting at close to 12 per month for 18-24 year olds compared with just over 4 per month for the 70+ age group.

However there is higher spend among older demographics which highlights the generational difference.  While younger people visit restaurants more often, older demographics spend more.

Executive Director, Simon Stenning said: “Spend per occasion rises in a linear fashion, apart from a slight dip at 40-44 year olds, until peaking at the 65-69 year old demographic.  This shows how older consumers continue to see eating out as a special occasion, while younger people approach it in a more casual way.”

Stenning warns that “The figures highlighted in the Eating Out in the UK report of the aging demographics need to be taken seriously by the industry.”  The report provides forecasts for the next ten years of total number of meals eaten out by each age cohort, highlighting the challenges that all foodservice businesses face whether accommodating needs of older consumers, or the declining number of younger consumers.

It will come as no surprise that, at an average of 12.05 meals per month, Londoners eat out significantly more than all other regions – more than twice the amount of consumers in Wales.  The report shows that there are notable differences between eating out habits across all the regions of the UK.

Many regions have higher spends per capita on breakfast than in London, including the East of England, where average spend is £5.17 compared with £4.46 for London. At lunch too, the East of England has a higher average spend than London.  So, whilst eating out frequency is much lower in this region, when eating out consumers view the experience as more of a special occasion and are prepared to spend more.

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