According to the survey by global market research company GMI, the number of parents in the UK eating out with their young children on a weekly basis is higher than the number of parents in Germany or France, yet the majority of British parents are unhappy with the facilities on offer.
Of the 1,005 parents responding to the survey, 59 per cent said they had taken their pre-school age children to a restaurant specifically because it provided family-friendly facilities rather than because of the choice of cuisine on offer.
Fast food and chain restaurants
When it comes to the type of outlet visited by parents with children under five, fast food restaurants fared the best (64 per cent) with cafes and coffee shops coming next (50 per cent) followed by chain restaurants (48 per cent).
Supermarket cafes were visited by 45 per cent of parents while 44 per cent of parents take their young children to pubs to eat.
However, while numbers are fairly high for all types of outlets, there are clear differences in the satisfaction rates. Less than half (21 per cent) of the parents visiting chain restaurants with young children said they felt they met their needs while the number dropped to 12 per cent for those visiting pubs and just 7 per cent for those going to coffee shops.
Top five requests
As part of the survey, parents were asked to give their opinion on what would make a business more family-friendly and GMI has come up with this top five:
- A special children’s menu (84 per cent)
- Children’s entertainment i.e. crayons and colouring book at the table (79 per cent)
- High chairs or booster seats (74 per cent)
- Baby changing facilities (71 per cent)
- Child friendly staff (70 per cent).
Ralph Risk, GMI's marketing director, Europe, said: “There is a real opportunity to make simple changes, from training staff to be more child-friendly to adding new offers and facilities to encourage families to shop and eat out more together.
"These don’t have to be expensive for business owners – in restaurants a special menu and some form of entertainment were the top two options parents look for. With so many initiatives focused on making the high street more attractive and profitable, it’s a reminder that some simple changes can make a big difference to this particular group.”