The latest figures from The NPD Group reveal spend in the British out-of-home foodservice market during the week ending 30 August reached 63% of the level seen pre-Covid at the start of the year.
This confirms that the market was more active in that week than at any time since the Covid-19 lockdown began in March.
According to NPD’s CREST data, August (a peak month for dining out) would usually attract more than £5bn in transactions.
Covid-19 has seen this estimated figure cut by nearly half, to a little over £2.5bn.
The government’s Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme has delivered a welcome boost to the hospitality industry, with July and August seeing the nation choosing staycations and feeling more confident to dine out.
Dinner was the most active meal eaten out, followed by lunch at 72% and 63% of pre-lockdown spend respectively.
Who was dining out?
Consumers aged 16-24 were especially active in recent weeks, with their spend jumping from 49% (week 32) of pre-lockdown to 77% in just three weeks.
The next most active age band was the over-55s, spending 72% of pre-lockdown levels in week 35, and the same week saw weekday recovery significantly more pronounced at 69% of pre-lockdown spend (compared to 50% for weekend spend).
“The EOTHO period of 3-31 August (weeks 32 to 35) saw a definite improvement in spend compared to previous months and operators will see this as the start of a long recovery,” comments Dominic Allport, insights director (foodservice) at The NPD Group.
“The important question is whether the restaurant industry will sustain this summer’s improvement into September and October?
“These two months would typically see 17% of the industry’s annual spend with combined sales of nearly £10bn.
“However, the foodservice industry is still facing severe pressures and with recent concern about a possible second wave of Covid-19 cases it is likely that any further improvement could be challenging.”
NPD’s separate SnapMyEats consumer panel confirmedthat 62% of the growth in dine out – some 21m visits – was driven by buyers purchasing more frequently in August than they did in July because of EOTHO.
More than one third (34%) of the dine out growth, which is the equivalent of 11.5m trips, came from bringing in brand new customers in August.
These consumers had not eaten out in July, so EOTHO clearly attracted this new audience.
On top of this, two million trips were switched from delivery to dine out, as the scheme encouraged buyers to go out for meals they had been ordering in.