Casual dining is continuing to grow in the UK as new figures from The NPD Group shows visits are up 7% for the year ending June 2018 and spend is increasing four times faster than the overall eat-out foodservice market.
The 7% growth is equivalent to 35m extra visits compared to the previous 12 months, meaning casual dining now accounts for 5% of visits in the UK’s out-of-home foodservice industry.
In the same period, the overall OOH market suffered a decline of 43m visits.
Brits spent £6bn on casual dining during the year, around 11% of total OOH spend.
The findings come despite the news of closures, rescues and re-structuring, as casual dining operators continue to expand with signs of a stronger focus on lower-cost sites away from London.
While there were an additional 3m casual dining visits in London, there were 23m more in the southeast and southwest of England.
“Casual dining restaurants remain one of the key growth stories in Britain’s OOH foodservice market, despite the high-profile closures, rescues and restructuring seen in this sector in recent months,” says The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport. “But while the market is expanding, success is not guaranteed. One of the problems has been the tendency for some operators to scale up too quickly, with ‘quantity of sites’ outweighing ‘quality of sites’.
“Some of the newer brands are also failing to set themselves apart from competitors, leaving consumers with the sense they are getting similar menus, similar venues and similar customer experiences. But the biggest issue is the pressure on profit margins with business rates, rent, food and labour all costing more in an over-supplied market.”