Reasons to be cheerful

The eating out sector can feel besieged by challenges at the moment. But as CGA Peach’s new Looking for Tomorrow's Growth report in partnership with Barclaycard shows, there is plenty of cause for optimism as we move into 2017.

Several trends and developments have conspired against operators this year.

Property costs have continued to soar. Food inflation is going the wrong way too. The new National Living Wage has added to staff costs. The Coffer Peach Business Tracker shows that the bulk of managed pub and restaurant groups’ growth is now coming from new openings, and that supply has started to outstrip demand in some places. Consumer confidence is still sketchy, and the Brexit vote at June’s EU Referendum has added to the sense of turmoil.

But it is too easy to get despondent at all of this, and our Looking for Growth report outlines many of the reasons to be cheerful in 2017. For one, eating out has never been more widespread; CGA Peach’s BrandTrack research shows that nine in ten people have eaten out over the last six months. Barclaycard data reveals that year on year growth in the entertainment category—which includes restaurants and pubs—has outpaced food and drink spending, primarily at supermarkets, in every month during the last two years.

Meanwhile, figures from the Office for National Statistics show that real personal disposable income per head is increasing, and that consumers’ satisfaction with their lives is higher than for several years. Unemployment rates are at their lowest for a decade. Population growth is working in operators’ favour too; from 2010 to 2015—the most recent year with published estimates—the UK population grew by 2.35 million people, or 3.7%.

A look around the average high street shows how much restaurant and pub operators have achieved in that time. They have responded to demand with incredible energy, developing dynamic new concepts and rolling out great brands. Consumers who like to eat out have never had so much choice, quality and convenience.

No-one is pretending it will be easy out there in 2017. Competition gets fiercer by the day, and the economy isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders. But we should remember that the expansion of casual dining has been one of the true success stories of the UK economy over the last decade or so. Our Looking for Growth report charts how it has made eating out a central part of everyday life, and despite all the headwinds, the best of today’s brands have a lot to look forward to.

Looking for Tomorrow’s Growth has been produced by CGA Peach in association with Barclaycard and is available for download here. It pulls together data from a variety of sources, led by CGA Peach’s market-leading consumer-side and industry-side measures including BrandTrack, Coffer Peach Business Tracker and the AlixPartners Market Growth Monitor. For more about the report and CGA Peach’s suite of bespoke research services, please contact Chris Jeffrey at chris.jeffrey@cgapeach.co.uk.