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NPD Group highlights off-premise opportunity for pubs and bars post lockdown

Published:  11 June, 2020

The NPD Group has highlighted the opportunity for bars and pubs to focus on the contribution of off-sales visits to their businesses post lockdown.    

Once the British foodservice industry’s lockdown ends, there is scope to expand the range of delivery and takeaway offerings “significantly” to include alcoholic and other non-alcoholic beverages, along with takeaway hot and cold food, said the global insights company.

Driven by delivery services and takeaway coffee, in the year to March 2020, 9.9% of all British pub visits were off-premise – up from 7.6% five years earlier, it said.

Unsurprisingly, in Q1 2020, visits to British pubs declined by over 12% from Q1 2019, with the steep drop reflecting the on-trade shutdown introduced by the government on 20 March and following UK-wide lockdown just days later. 

“The pressure on business has been enormous and the impact has been devastating. When trading fully resumes, pub and bar operators will want to do everything they can to reinvigorate their offering while ensuring sales operations are as safe and socially distanced as possible.

"Doubling or tripling off-premise visits – from the current 10% to 20% or even 30% – is a viable ambition for some operators,” said Peter Linden, insights manger foodservice, The NPD Group. 

Pubs were missing out on the boom in delivery, added Linden, but predicted that this was about to change.

Over the past decade, digital ordering in the eating-out market has increased by 700%, rising from 95 million visits per year in the year ending March 2010 to 731 million for the year ending March 2020, according to research by The NPD Group. 

But within the pub and bar sector, growth has been slower, it said, pointing to delivery as an example.

“A high-street quick-service restaurant can expect delivery to account for up to 10% of visits but delivery orders currently account for less than 2% of pub visits, although this is now growing quickly," said Linden.

Furthermore, inside a pub or bar, ordering via mobile apps currently accounts for just 1.4% of all visits, he added, but this too was “increasing rapidly, driven by apps that, for example, allow anyone to order food and drinks to their table".  

“Ordering this way has significant scope for growth in pubs and can increase the safety of operations for customers and staff. Visits through digital ordering are increasing across the wider foodservice industry – and not just among younger consumers,” said Linden.

In the two years to March 2020, they were up 42% for 16-to-34s, 32% for the 35-to-49s, 22% for the over 50s and 18% for families, according to The NPD Group research.