Dining, eating and drinking away from home is becoming more of a solo pursuit, accounting for over 38% of the 11.57bn visits in the foodservice market last year.
According to The NPD Group, there were 4.4bn solo eating-out visits (including foodservice delivery) in Britain in 2019. Solo eating visits grew twice as fast as overall visits in 2019 (up 6.8% versus 2.9%).
Solo eaters have also increased their average spend on food and beverages away from home by 16% in the five years to the end of 2019, versus an increase of 11% for the overall eating out market. Breakfast is where solo eating is most common, with visits growing by almost 15% in the five years to the end of 2019.
Pizza and Italian is appealing to lone eaters, with 34% more solo visits for the period. Quick service burger outlets, pubs and full-service restaurants have seen solo eater visits grow by 30%, 28% and 10% respectively over the past five years.
“All sorts of restaurants should respond to this trend to take a slice of this growing market,” says Dominic Allport, insights director (foodservice) at The NPD Group. “One obvious improvement is to create a more inviting interior, with counter-style seating to make eating alone on the premises less daunting. Modern pan-Asian outlets such as Yo! Sushi and Wasabi are great examples of this. Zoning is another effective design strategy, where small tables or sofas are clustered together, so solo diners don’t feel awkward when surrounded by larger groups. And if lone diners want to linger to do some work, then friendly staff, pull-out desks, power sockets and table ordering via an app can all help to maximise additional spend.”