According to today's report, which studies the eating out habits of UK consumers and the views of the industry’s senior executives, 19 million adults now eat out at least once a week, compared to 17 million a year ago.
This year, the market, which covers all areas of out-of-home dining, from cost sector catering to coffee shops, fast-casual and fine-dining restaurants, is expected to grow by 1.8 per cent to £79.7bn and will continue to see positive growth over the next five years.
“This will be driven by physical expansion, improved consumer confidence with higher anticipated average earnings growth combined with lower inflation rates leading to trading up, ” said Anya Marco, Allegra’s director of insight.
The industry’s growth is expected to be driven by branded restaurants and pubs and coffee shops, with the total number of outlets predicted to grow from its current 326,145 to more than 337,000 by 2018.
While some areas grow, the independent restaurant sector is expected to decline with turnover forecast to drop by 3.4 per cent and the number of outlets by 1 per cent.
The survey of more than 2,000 adults also shows that diners will continue to look for value when eating out as more than half said they spent cautiously when doing so.
Allegra’s findings come as a similar report by Mintel shows the increasing emphasis on providing value for money. According to BigHospitality's sister publication M&C Report, the Mintel survey of 2,000 consumers found that 54 per cent believe that price is the most important factor when choosing a venue for an everyday meal.
In contrast to the Allegra report, however, Mintel's survey showed that a third had actually reduced the number of times they eat out compared to a year ago and 24 per cent had reduced the amount they spend when they do, opting for tap water or house wines to save cash, although 18 per cent said they would pay more for good quality beer or wine.
"Diners are more likely to be frugal on areas where it isn't obvious where the added value lies, such as in the case of tap vs bottled water, for example. Offering greater variety in terms of the range of drinks and dishes available should provide operators with key opportunities for upselling, with a good portion of consumers prepared to pay more for good quality wine or beer," said Helena Spicer, food service analyst at Mintel.
Eating Out in the UK report - key facts:
- The total UK foodservice and hospitality market will achieve 1.8 per cent sales growth in 2013, reaching a total of £79.7bn.
- In 2012 one in eight meals were eaten out, this year the number is one in 8.5.
- Eating breakfast out has become more popular. Last year each diner had breakfast 1.7 times per month while the figure rose to 1.8 times in the first half of this year. Average lunch and dinner visits both declined.
- Average spend on breakfast has increased to £4.77, from £4.66 in 2012. Lunch spend has increased to £7.39 in 2013, compared with £7.22 in 2012. However, average spend at dinner declined to £17.89 per person, from £18.11 in 2012.
- 56 per cent of consumers look for a meal deal to get good value when eating out.