Allegra Foodservice’s UK EatingOut Panel, which tracks the eating out activity of 6,000 consumers’ every month, revealed that overall eating out participation and frequency was down year-on-year in Q1 2014.
However, eating out frequency at pubs and supermarket to-go channels increased, with lunch in particular driving growth.
Additionally, overall spend continues to grow faster than the rate of inflation – suggesting that consumers are opting for premium dishes when they do dine out.
Wet winter and dampened confidence
Allegra suggested that the fall in overall eating out frequency was a result of the wettest winter on record, as well as low consumer confidence and the fact that Easter fell outside of March this year.
“42% of consumers still do not feel confident about their future income levels and 60% don’t agree that their money is going further now than it did six months ago,” said Allegra Foodservice director Simon Stenning at the UK Foodservice Quarterly Market Debrief in London yesterday in London.
“Dampened consumer confidence has also impacted frequency which has decreased, except at lunch where frequency has increased marginally. This increase in frequency at lunch has been driven by growth in supermarket to go channel and branded chains.”
Looking forward to the rest of 2014, Allegra foodservice said that a rise in consumer confidence should result in an increase in participation and frequency across all segments, with the World Cup generating an extra lift for pubs.
“Spend is expected to remain high with the new era of premiumised informality driven by food pleasure seekers,” it said, adding that operators are ‘very optimistic’ about the year ahead.
Earlier this month, Allegra Foodservice predicted that the UK restaurant market would reach £48.2bn in value in 2014 and £52bn by 2017, with new and traditional fast food set to be the strongest growing segment.
“The UK restaurant is undergoing a period of significant change, with a renaissance of pubs, strong emergence of new fast food, and a plethora of street food markets nationwide,” said Allegra Foodservice director Steve Gotham.
“These concepts enable consumers to enjoy premium food in an informal setting.”