Based on recent NPD research, after reaching its peak of 11.35 billion visits in 2017, we’re expecting the out-of-home or eat-out foodservice market will fall over the next two years in Britain. The pressures affecting on-premise eating and drinking is a big theme in British foodservice. The old habit of going shopping and finding a place to sit down is waning as more people shop online and opt for faster and more convenient ways of dining.

All of the meaningful growth in foodservice will be ‘off-premise’, which is where the industry will address the decline on the high street. The modest growth in the large takeaway and grab ‘n’ go channel, supported by the continuing delivery revolution, is enough to provide a significant majority of the growth in spend over the next two years for the entire British foodservice industry.

The growth of drive-thru is part of a trend towards more convenience and on keeping a lid on spending. This should come as no surprise given the average on-premise cost is nearly twice that of off-premise purchases; and the established trend of consumers trading down to cheaper eats when eating out is expected to continue.

But the reason why we’re seeing this growth in off-premise dining isn’t as simple as lower cost. Sure, cost has a lot to do with it, but consumer behavior and technology play roles, too.

Both casual dining and the QSR channel, including burger and bakery chains, will continue to grow as more consumers seek convenience through food delivery services, as well as the increase in emphasis on product and service quality. Our industry has caught up with technology in a big way with the number of customers using digital kiosks or order screens in a foodservice outlet, or ordering online or via apps for delivery or takeaway / grab ‘n’ go expected to exceed 1 billion per year for the first time by the end of 2020. The use of apps in particular is expected to continue to see a rapid increase in adoption and use, with visits that originate from an app (both click and collect and delivery apps) forecast to leap by 88% between now and the end of 2020.

In my opinion, any future growth in foodservice visits will be overwhelmingly tech-driven. Operators have realized that the full-scale implementation of digital order channels which offer a combination of convenience, engagement and new experience is a prerequisite for survival and growth in a sluggish, over-supplied market.