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Eat Out to…who’s going out?

  • SalesOut
  • SalesOut

Two years after the now infamous government scheme encouraged us to venture outside and support hospitality businesses during the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis is keeping us in.

New IRI consumer data has found that, on average, the British public are eating out less regularly over the last six months than they used to. This finding may not see your jaw hit the floor as we now officially find ourselves in a recession, but as always there’s plenty more to it when we look beneath the headlines.

Income isn’t the deciding factor

The nationwide trend may be that we’re eating out less, but 31% now claim to be eating out more regularly – highlighting once again that this current economic strain is having different impacts on different people.

Men aged 18-34 represent the majority of those eating out more regularly, whereas young and middle-aged women were neutral in their response – showing a clear difference in the approaches of men and women to rising costs and what they’re prioritising. Then if we look at both men and women aged 45 and over, they’ve made big reductions in how often they eat out – likely driven by lack of disposable income, particularly for those on pensions.

We’re seeing restaurant chains fare differently as a result of these changes. Customers who visit chains like Giraffe, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Yo Sushi were, on average, those who claimed to be eating out more regularly; patrons of TGI Fridays and Nando's, on the other hand, tended to be the respondents reducing their dining out.

But the biggest surprise is that income isn’t the biggest factor here: respondents earning over £67,000/year have, on average, reduced their eating out more than those earning up to £25,000/year. People of all income levels are reporting reductions in eating out, and it seems like the deciding factors are more personal than financial.

The data is telling us that age and gender are greater influencers behind these behavioural changes, despite the biggest pressures right now being financial.

How businesses can react to these findings

Focusing on what we’ll call ‘Team Staying Out’, on one hand we have the more premium restaurant chains that are currently benefitting from increased customer frequency and should look to take advantage of that further. On the other, we have the more mainstream chains that may be losing out and in need of encouraging customers – but note that the messaging they choose to achieve that may need to be about more than price. In both cases, premium and mainstream, the onus should be on catering for the young men we know to be leading Team Staying Out.

‘Team Staying In’ presents a different opportunity for a different sector. Convenience stores may want to see this behavioural shift as a chance to highlight products that index highly with older shoppers and young women. We can assume with confidence that the demographics pulling away from eating out will be looking to move their spend into more affordable channels and treat themselves when staying in at home.

If you want to know more about who’s staying in, who’s going out, and more nuances of the consumer reaction to the cost-of-living crisis, book a 121 consultation with us.

Source: IRI Customer Poll | N. 504 | October 2022

Published 6 December, 2022

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