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Market Insights 2019 | What To Expect This Year

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For the last few years, there has been a great deal of uncertainty about the UK economy. Fortunately for the hospitality industry, the lack of clarity does not seem to be hugely affecting the eating-out market.

Although news reports aren't too reassuring, it seems consumers are defiantly choosing to go out and create memories, rather than buy material goods. Perhaps wanting to escape the daily negative headlines?

It's been reported that consumer confidence has dropped to its lowest point since 2013. However, we're still levels above the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Consumers expect the economy to struggle this year, but seem to be more confident around 2019 for their households.

Eating out market continues to grow

Barclaycard tracks consumer spending each month on their cards. The results for January are promising, showing spending up 2.9% on January 2018. Within this data, spending at pubs was up 15% and at restaurants up 11%.

And the good news doesn't end there.

Towards the end of February, it was reported that closures of wet-led pubs had finally began to decrease – down from 18 a week last year to 14 a week this year.

There’s been a long-term shift in consumer behaviour from buying items (e.g. clothing, household appliances) to buying experiences  and this has undoubtedly benefited the eating-out sector. The rise of social media has also played its part.

Initially a vehicle for chatting with friends, social media has now become a platform for showcasing the best possible aspects of a user's life. It's encouraging people to get out and do more, which is great news for businesses.

Customers acknowledge seeking out more value for money in their purchases now (70% agree) and this is also impacting their eating out decisions, with the average transaction value in restaurants dropping 2.3% on January 2018.

With this in mind, deals such as "two pub meals for £10" or "free glass of wine with a curry" can be a great way to boost trade on quieter evenings.

Learn how to create the perfect breakfast / brunch menu now

Food-to-go in growth

Food-to-go is outperforming other parts of the market, maybe again as customers seek increased value by downgrading a restaurant meal to a takeaway. We also see the continued innovation in this part of the market with Just Eat, Deliveroo and dark kitchens.

Sandwich bars and bakeries are also growing well, as time-pressed workers look for something quick and easy.

Consumers expect their behaviour to continue to move in that direction, with a predicted increase in food delivery orders in the next two years.

Find out how using delivery services can increase your sales

Veganuary gets more mainstream

Food trends this time of year usually focus on healthy eating, but the further growth of veganism has been significant.

Veganuary hit the mainstream media alongside Dry January, with supermarkets competing to launch new vegan ranges.

As revealed in a Nisbets Pulse survey of 850 of our customers: grow your own, vegan and healthy eating are expected to be the top food trends in 2019.

Restaurant brand Leon has seen success with their free-from offerings.

The 52-site chain has released figures showing that 64% of its January 2019 sales were vegetarian and 55% were vegan – compared to figures of 46% and 34% in the previous January.

Diners are aiming to introduce more vegetables, fruit, fish and salad into their diets. Cutting down on refined sugar, processed foods, fat and salt is also a priority.

This means your menu may need some reworking.


The 2018 sugar tax is on course to raise £240 million in its first year, but no data has been released regarding its effectiveness in reducing sugar intake across the country.

Market research company Mintel reports that 60% of UK adults support taxes on unhealthy food and drink. And 63% of UK adults want brands to reward them for healthy choices, which could perhaps be done introducing loyalty cards for customers.

What's the next step?

For food businesses, catering to vegan and vegetarian diners is the key to winning bookings.

Even though it's still a small percentage of the population, a strong-willed vegan in the group can influence where a party of meat-eaters dines.

Win over the free-from crowd with a diverse, vibrant menu.

Read our in-depth guide on how to profit from vegan and vegetarian food to maximise on the growing popularity of these lifestyles 


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