Flat whites and takeaways prop up ‘sluggish’ UK leisure spend

16/04/2019 - 14:48
Consumers are swapping fries for flat whites and dining-out for eating-in data released by Cardlytics has revealed.

Based on the spending insights of 2.5 million UK bank customers, it found that spend on dining overall grew by only 3% year-on-year in 2018, compared to 9% in 2017 and 17% in 2016.

Delivery services continued to outperform the sector, up 19% in 2018, and single-handedly driving growth in UK dining overall from a category level.

Duncan Smith, head of business development at Cardlytics UK, said: “Delivery services continue to be the big success story in the UK. Powered by the ease and speed of delivery apps, as well as endless choice, it’s unlikely this stellar growth will slow.

“As consumers increasingly opt for eating-in over dining-out, traditional bricks-and-mortar restaurants are feeling the pressure. Yet, facing into the headwinds by embracing these platforms, as well as other consumer trends, could well pay dividends. Tapping into areas like door-to-door delivery and click-and-collect, a desire for healthier choices and other new marketing platforms could be the recipe for success for brands in 2019.”

However, despite consumers holding back from spend on dining, the data revealed they are not willing to part with their flat whites. Spend in coffee chains remained resilient, up 5% in 2018, greater than any other category. Among the best performers were Benugo, Café Nero and Paul.

Consumers are seemingly willing to trade in spend on an occasional cocktail to maintain their caffeine fix, as spend growth in bars slows, up just 1% in 2018, compared with 8.3% the year prior.

Fast food vendors were among the most significantly impacted by the slowdown, with spend growth reduced to 1% in 2018, reversing a period of ‘strong performance’ in the sector; 2017 alone saw an 11% increase in spend.

Average spend per trip in fast food chains has also steadily declined in recent years, with consumers spending just £6.28 on average per trip in 2018 compared with £6.58 in 2015.

Burger and fried chicken brands saw some of the largest declines in spending, down 7% and 6% respectively in 2018, as fast food chains felt the brunt of the rising health food trend. The data showed consumers are opting for healthier and trendier on-the-go options, offered by the likes of Leon, EAT and Pret a Manger, with spend on salads, soups and sandwiches up 5%.

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