Value conscious consumers shunning independent outlets in favour of chains

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Traffic at independent restaurants has fallen 10 per cent over six years
Traffic at independent restaurants has fallen 10 per cent over six years

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Diners are shunning independent restaurants in favour of better perceived value and quality of food at larger casual dining chains, according to new research by NPD Group.

Between 2008 and 2014 eating-out traffic at independent operators fell from 53 per cent to 43 per cent, while restaurant chains saw an increase of 15.5 per cent.

Over the same period the number of Britons who said they chose an outlet based on low prices rose from nine per cent to 25 per cent at the end of 2014.

Diners are increasingly prioritising quality of food, with 21 per cent of consumers saying this is why they choose an outlet compared to 17 per cent six years ago. More consumers also choose where to eat based on the availability of a ‘good variety of foods’ (12.6 per cent in 2014, up from 11.4 per cent in 2008).

“Britain’s independent restaurants and food outlets are struggling and the trend is likely to continue,” said Cyril Lavenant, NPD group director of Foodservice UK.

“Most of them are not meeting expectations on price and quality or offering the full experience for which chains are known. The high street is more and more competitive and offers clear value for money while independent foodservice operators face more pressure than ever in this respect. To survive, independent outlets will need to offer good food and good service at a good price, bring more excitement and keep up with the current trends​.”

BigHospitality reported last year​ that failure to offer cashless payments was a decisive factor in consumers abandoning independents for chain restaurants.

The British out-of-home foodservice market was worth £50.7bn at the end of 2014, with chains accounting for £27.5bn. Casual dining restaurants are set to outgrow all other channels​ and achieve record spend of over £5bn by the end of 2016.

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