New research from CGA by NIQ reveals consumer demand for Britain’s pubs, bars and restaurants has stayed robust during months of rising household bills.
CGA’s monthly Cost of Living Pulse shows two in five (40%) consumers went out to eat and drink at least weekly in April 2023. This figure is unchanged from March and down by only 2% from six months ago in October 2022. More than nine in 10 (94%) consumers went out at least once in April—1% more than in March, and two points more than the level of six months earlier.
In another sign of stability, just under a quarter (24%) of consumers told the Cost of Living Pulse they went out more frequently than usual in April—just one percentage point down from six months ago. While 43% say they went out less often than they usually would, this figure is unchanged from October 2022. This group is dominated by consumers who were already lower-frequency users of Britain’s On Trade—while the important core of regular visitors have maintained or increased their trips out.
The Pulse also indicates that hospitality remains a top priority for many people’s discretionary spending. Two in five (39%) consumers say they would prioritise visits to pubs, bars and restaurants if their disposable income were to be cut further—a significantly higher number than those who would protect their spending in areas including clothing (28%), home improvements (27%) or international holidays (27%).
The survey results are in line with CGA’s sales data showing solid sales for pubs, bars and restaurants. The latest edition of the Coffer CGA Business Tracker, which measures sales at Britain’s leading managed groups, reported like-for-like growth of 6.9% in April 2023—a seventh consecutive month of year-on-year increases. However, with growth well below the current high rate of inflation, sales remain down in real terms.
Charlie Mitchell, CGA by NIQ’s research and insight director, said: “Consumer confidence may be fragile, but our Cost of Living Pulse makes it clear that people remain as eager as ever to eat and drink out. They know that pubs, bars and restaurants provide experiences they can’t get anywhere else, and they will give them up only as a very last resort. However, it’s also apparent that many consumers are watching their outgoings extremely closely, and want full value for money when they go out. In such a demanding and increasingly polarised market, it’s more important than ever for businesses to understand the latest consumer habits and priorities and deliver consistently memorable and good-value experiences that keep guests coming back.”