Millions of families across the UK have cut back on spending their money on luxuries, including meals in restaurants, because of the recession and the subsequent squeeze on disposable income. Many people have been encouraged to trade down on eating out to cheaper, fast food meals including fried chicken and burgers.
According to the market research company, NPD, which tracks consumer spending, 5.54 billion visits were made to a fast food restaurant in 2011, out of the 11 billion meals eaten in total out of the home, whether it was a pub, sandwich shop or work canteen.
This means that 50.4% of all meals eaten out of the home are at a supposed ‘quick service’ restaurant, up from 47.3% just two years ago. Quick service restaurants is a phrase used by the food and restaurant industry to describe any outlet where the consumer queues to buy take away food, which does include coffee shops.
Guy Fielding from the NPD, said, “It’s a lot about trading down. Because fast food has become so cheap, it has driven families in particular away from independent restaurants and pubs to the fast food chains.
“Families want to know what they are getting. And with the likes of McDonald’s or KFC they know it is a consistent experience and good value.”
The NPD said that in the last 4 years, both the money spent on dining and the total number of meals eaten out of the home has fallen. The NPD also said that the size of the eating our market has dropped from £50.8billion in the 12 months to September 2008 to £49.2billion in the 12 months to September 2011.
Restaurants are trying to compete with the fast food chains by offering 2 for 1 deals and discounts for diners, but are struggling due to the increased cost of supplies, the price of restaurant insurance quotes, the rising cost of hiring staff and other expensive overheads.
Large supermarkets have also said that shoppers have bought a larger number of premium ready meals, which are an alternative to going out for a meal.