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Green shoots of recovery in food-service

Published:  22 July, 2020

Britain’s food-service sector is showing signs of post lockdown recovery, according to new research from information business The NPD Group.

Weekly spend for the week ending 12 July was at 50% of its pre-Covid-19 levels, up 30% since late March.

Dinner is showing the strongest recovery. Spend is now at 64% of its pre-lockdown level, up from 29% at the end of March, although consumer reluctance to eat inside food venues means that the dining-out market is only at 23% of its former value.

Growth is largely being fuelled by the food-delivery industry, which continues to maintain the growth it experienced during lockdown, with spend 60% above its pre-crisis value.

The overall recovery is being driven by weekend occasions, where spend has revived to 57% of its former levels, and by the 'young'. Spending among the 16-to-24 age group has now reached 45% of where it was, while among 25-to-34-year olds it is at 51%.

Conversely, spend for those aged 55 and above is still less than 25% of its pre-virus value.

Dominic Allport, insights director (foodservice) at The NPD Group, said: “While this data on spending shows evidence of some recovery in British foodservice, it is not clear if this reflects the start of a sustainable improvement or the short-term satisfaction of pent-up demand following relaxation measures.

“Perspex screens, hand sanitizers, masks, gloves, social distancing messaging and other initiatives underline that the British foodservice experience has changed. But it also shows this industry is working hard to recover. These tentative signs of improvement are welcome and foodservice operators will want to build on this.

“The prevalence of eating prepared food at home is further evidence that some consumers simply aren’t ready to eat out. That’s not surprising given the impact of the lockdown on people’s psyche, especially older people or those who have underlying health conditions.”

The news will be a welcome boost for the UK economy, with the hospitality sector alone accounting for a quarter of the UK's fall in GDP.