The latest family spending stats from the Office for National Statistics have revealed good news for the food service industry; Brits are spending more money on eating out and staying in hotels, and less on smoking, drugs and consuming alcohol at home.
Despite Britain’s vote to leave the EU, it seems we’re favouring a shift to a more cultured European way of living – swapping a glass of wine or a couple of beers at home for sociable evenings out.
Living healthierFor the first time since records began in 2001/2002, weekly spending on drinking alcohol at home, tobacco and drugs fell below £12 – down 42% from £19.50 in the early noughties. This may reflect the more health-conscious society we now live in as the number of smokers decreases and movements like Dry January become more prominent.
Certainly, teetotal/straight edge lifestyles have gained traction, and as the nation works longer hours people are choosing to spend their money on drinking and dining out for the experience, rather than at home.
Families are spending £45 a week at restaurants, cafes and hotels – including alcoholic drinks consumed in pubs – which is the highest number for five years and up by £1.80 on last year (a significant 10% increase).
Why are people spending more money?High employment rates and growth in average earnings is seeing families armed with more disposable income, with weekly average spending at £528.90 for the second year running (adjusted for inflation).
In 2017 it is estimated that Britons will spend a total of £54.7bn in restaurants, pubs and cafes – up from £52.2bn in 2015. Increased confidence in bringing customers through the door is allowing establishments to put up their prices, knowing people have the cash and are willing to spend it on an experience they’ll remember.
There are also much healthier and varied options now which are catering to a traditionally niche market. The days of vegetarians having to settle for a veggie burger while the rest of the group tucks in to steak are long gone. Britain is now home to some brilliant exclusively vegetarian and vegan restaurants, allowing the estimated 12% (and growing) of the population who shun meat, dairy and fish the opportunity for an evening out without compromise.
The number of vegans in Britain has risen by more than 360 percent in the last decade, and supply is catching up to the demand with businesses recognising the benefits of tapping into this industry. Having a varied choice of vegan/vegetarian options attracts a wider range of customer, and with almost half of all vegans being aged 15-34, you can resonate with the younger generation who place so much stock in health-conscious dining.
What does this mean for pubs and bars?The £7.50 per week spent on alcohol away from home shows that pubs and bars are still a significant staple of British life. We’ve always loved going for a pint, and between the traditional pub and trendy ambient bars consumers have a variety of options, alongside the nightclub scene.
With an average of £2.40 per week spent on subscriptions to sports and social clubs, football fans are still flocking to pubs to watch live matches. Major events like the Olympics, Six Nations rugby and Euro 2016 see many casual fans packing out pubs and bars to drink and cheer their teams on. Sport and pints go hand in hand in Britain and that’s showing no sign of changing.
Pubs and restaurants are also likely benefiting from the £1.80 spent per week on live entertainment (theatre, concerts and shows) and cinema as people round off evenings out with a pint in the pub, or couples enjoy a meal while they digest the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the cinema.
What does this mean for restaurants and cafes?In recent times there has been a boom of dining out facilities in the UK – cities and towns being revamped with multi-million pound complexes featuring multiple dining outlets. Increased interest in eating out is allowing smaller independent restaurants to flourish, with 49% of Brits classing independent restaurants as their favourite place to eat and 34% favouring local cafes.
Artisan and bespoke restaurants and cafes, each offering a unique menu and experience, is proving immensely popular in an era where carbon-copy chains are everywhere.
Though conventional wisdom suggests it’s not healthy to be near competition, restaurant chains bunched together creates a visually appealing look that lures people in – especially when passers-by see bright lights and crowds of people out having a good time. Brits traditionally would only eat out for special occasions, but families are now spending £17.30 per week on meals in restaurants and cafes, suggesting we’ve got the taste for dining out.
Communities may also be feeling a sense of duty. With such large investments being made in their towns or cities, it is down to consumers to walk through the door and spend their money to support the new ventures. Use it or lose it!
Smaller towns may have appeared downbeat for years, so the excitement of investment and more plush facilities is getting families through the door and enjoying the kind of evening they may have travelled to a bigger city for in the past.
What does this mean for takeaways and food delivery services?Brits are spending £20.20 per week on recreational and cultural services, of which the highest spending category is £6.80 on TV subscriptions.
Over the last 18 years since The Sopranos hit our screens there has been a major increase in the quality of TV dramas such as Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead - and now many people find themselves ‘binge-watching’ a series over the course of the weekend.
We love to treat ourselves and the appeal of staying in on a Saturday night with a great TV show and a delicious takeaway is often too much to resist, so we can reasonably draw a link between the £4.70 being spent on takeaways per week and what families are spending on TV subscriptions.
In 2016, Britain’s tourism industry saw a dramatic rise in ‘staycations’ – when Brits choose to holiday at home rather than abroad – with a reported £1.4bn boom since the EU Referendum. It was described in the industry as the best summer ever, with businesses rocketing as the pound’s falling value lead to Brits staying home and foreign tourists taking advantage of being able to get more bang for their buck.
What does this mean for hotels, B&Bs and guest houses?
Another reason for Brits turning their backs on holidays abroad is the heightened fear of terrorism, brought about by the 2015 terrorist attack on a Tunisian resort which killed 38 holidaymakers, mostly British tourists. In 2016 it was reported the Eurostar tunnel connecting London to Paris saw a significant drop in passengers following the Paris and Brussels terror attacks, while Turkey and Egypt also saw a vast reduction in British tourists flying out for a week in the sun.
This boost to the UK tourist industry sees family spending on hotels reported at £5.10 per week, which looks set to grow as more families plan their ‘staycations’ as the true impact of Brexit is felt.
Impact of social mediaWe're all aware of the benefits of social media for restaurants, pubs and most other businesses that deal with the general public. We all have a social media account, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Snapchat – and we're constantly connected with friends and what’s going on in our local area.
With people so readily sharing their good experiences, usually accompanied by a photo showing great food and a selfie with people smiling, those scrolling through their newsfeed see the best possible advert for your establishment – one that is verified by people they know, showcasing your place in the best possible light.
This can create a buzz, leaving people keen to see what the fuss is all about and have a ‘likeable’ Facebook post of their own to share.
Social media is giving people the desire to do more with their lives and enjoy more experiences, which is of great benefit to the food sector, and its impact on driving customers through the door can’t be underestimated.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a genuine social media phenomenon, so a large social media platform will drive more people into checking out what’s hot. Making sure your establishment has a social media presence is vital, allowing people to ‘check-in’ at your place for all their friends to see, while giving you the chance to interact with customers and any would-be patrons getting in touch.