Recovery Road: British High Street Evolving with Indie Hospitality Venues at the Helm

Restaurants, bars cafes and tearooms have been the fastest growing retail sectors in the UK over the past three years. These retailers have consistently experienced the highest number of net store openings in 2016, 2017 and 2018, according to the Local Data Company.

Cafes and tearooms are the fourth most popular retail sector, restaurants and bars the fifth, regarding new outlets launched during the last three years. Key stats include:

  • The restaurant and bars category saw the fourth largest number of net openings in 2018
  • There were 218 net restaurant and bar openings, up from 174 in 2017 (25% increase) [source], and 176 in 2016
  • The eating out market is valued at £89.5 billion with independent restaurants making up 68% of sales
  • The younger generation are fuelling a large part of this dining out culture, with 58% of millennials eating out at least once a week
  • Vegan restaurants are the top growing niche restaurant category, with 16 new units opening in 2018
  • 2017 saw a net growth of 10 units open in the UK (an increase of 61.5%)
  • Vegan restaurateurs are capitalising on the growing number of people that are turning vegan or adopting a ‘flexitarian’ approach to eating. Between 2014 and 2018 the number of vegans quadrupled in the UK
  • Cafes and tearooms experienced a 46% increase in the number of net openings between 2016-2017 – the largest number of net openings in that year. This is concurrent with a wider trend over the last decade as the number of coffee shops has increased by 140%. Research shows that 24-35 year olds are the biggest growing consumer demographic among tea drinkers
  • 365 Business Finance has seen a 100% increase in demand for its merchant cash advance product among restaurant businesses, and pubs and bars seeing a 52% increase in demand.

Putting this all into context, 365 Business Finance has created a virtual high street, Recovery Road, to demonstrate the changing face of the retail industry in the UK.

By reviewing statistics on the five fastest growing retail categories, the reasons why they have taken a foothold despite the difficult climate become apparent. Recovery Road acts as an interactive guide, showing how British retail and the high street has the potential to evolve with independent businesses at the helm.