Restaurants look set to recover as consumers still prefer to dine out with friends and when they want something special to eat

London, 23th November, 2020: Global information company The NPD Group says amid the severe and unprecedented COVID-19 business pressures affecting Britain’s out-of-home (OOH) foodservice industry, the delivery channel has been a welcome success story. Comparing the January-to-October period this year with the same period in 2019, delivery is up 14% in visit terms to 804 million and has seen a 40% increase in spend to £5.7 billion. However, although delivery has met a need during this unprecedented period of enforced home living, working and entertaining, NPD’s research shows that consumers still continue to value eating out and many plan to do so as soon as they are able. 

COVID-19 rules are boosting delivery by 12 million visits a month

In the meantime, with stricter rules in force across the foodservice industry, demand for delivery is strong. The NPD Group says on current trends delivery could finish 2020 with visits in the 12 months up 16% to break the 1 billion barrier and reach 1.1bn visits with spend projected up by 42% at £7.1 billion. That would be the equivalent of a 12 million monthly increase in visits versus 2019 and a £177 million monthly boost to spend. 

Dominic Allport, Insights Director (Foodservice), The NPD Group, said: “Delivery is the silver lining in the otherwise very black cloud that hangs over Britain’s foodservice sector and has been the standout performer in 2020. Delivery spend peaked in July at 51% above pre-COVID-19 levels but this trailed off as foodservice operators re-opened and with the August Eat-Out-to-Help-Out scheme. It’s now rising again amid the return to stricter lockdown rules and we expect it to see further success in the colder winter months and on into 2021. While the delivery channel is often seen as a threat by some operators, during the COVID-19 crisis it is bringing valuable business to many outlets that are otherwise facing the severest business challenges, and helping to feed a nation locked down in their homes.”

UK’s top food deliveries:

Pizzas, chips and beef burgers are the top three most ordered items
VISITS (Jan to Oct 2020)

Pizzas 208
Chips/fries/wedges 147
Beef burgers 71
Chicken nuggets/strips/pieces 69
Chicken burgers 39
Garlic bread 34
Sandwiches/Sliced Bread 27
Salad 25
Pasta 22
Chicken Wings 21
Source: The NPD Group, Jan to Oct 2020

Delivery now accounts for 16% of the foodservice industry’s £41 billion spend compared to 9% pre-COVID-19. This has meant much stronger business for the top three aggregator platforms Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, who have seen January-to-October business expand 20% to hit 352 million visits. In total, delivery aggregators have increased their share of the market’s spend nearly threefold and now account for more than 8% of the total foodservice industry. According to NPD’s analysis, delivery aggregators could finish 2020 with sales of more than £3 billion, up £811 million compared to 2019, a significant achievement in an extremely challenging time for the foodservice sector.

Consumers will return to dining out

NPD’s latest Sentiment Survey shows that Britons still very much value eating out in restaurants, with 50% saying they prefer to dine out or get a takeaway from a restaurant when spending time with friends. Almost six in 10 (58%) say they choose restaurants to eat ‘something special’. This bodes well for the sector, providing hope for when it begins to reopen and recover from the pandemic.

Dominic Allport, Insights Director (Foodservice), The NPD Group, says: “Delivery has thrived during the pandemic, and we expect to see a strong performance in November too. Our Sentiment Survey provides a much-needed ray of hope for restaurant operators and suggests diners will be keen to enjoy the experience of eating out with their friends, and some special meals in restaurants when they can. With so many operators struggling, let’s hope this happens sooner rather than later.”

Note to Editors

  1. The data quoted is for the British ‘Out of Home’ (OOH) foodservice market, comprising: 
  • QSR (quick-service restaurants) including burger and bakery chains
  • Casual dining brands
  • Pubs 
  • FSR (full-service restaurants)
  • Travel & leisure (travel hubs, hotels, department stores, on-board catering, bars, clubs etc.)
  • Supermarkets
  • Workplace canteens
  • Vending machines
  1. Visit: means one person visiting a foodservice outlet. A mother, father and two children would be four visits.