Over-50s spending £500m a month on lunchtime restaurant visits

Restaurant customers

New research from global information company The NPD Group suggests Britain’s older consumers could support growth in eat-out lunch business in future years.

There were 1 billion lunch visits out-of-home (OOH) by the over-50 age group for YE June 2017, and this demographic spent £6 billion on lunch over the year – the equivalent of £500m a month.

Compared to YE June 2008, the visits tally is up 6% while total spend is up some 12%.

Consumers over 50 can be expected to contribute to the growth of Britain’s food delivery revolution, and could be a catalyst to the development of new food choices that are better suited to the needs of people as they grow elder, NPD said.

Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, commented: “The over-50s demographic in Britain will grow in size and become wealthier, more active and more experimental than previous generations. For anybody running a business in Britain’s £54 billion foodservice industry, there’s a distinct ‘over-50s opportunity’. People in late middle age and older will respond well to the innovative approach we see on Britain’s high streets to lunchtime eating. The over-50s represent an excellent target for the foodservice industry and will definitely play a bigger role in the growing popularity of eating lunch out of home.”

The wider lunch occasion is already growing faster than the overall eat-out market. The 4.0 billion overall lunch visits (both on-premise and off-premise) for YE June 2017 were up 3% on the same period a year earlier. This compares well to the resilient 1% visit growth seen in the total British OOH foodservice market in YE June 2017.

But the lunch-to-go segment (food consumed off the premises) is doing even better with 4% growth.

NPD says the growing popularity of eating lunch-on-the-go could generate nearly 2.2 billion visits annually to foodservice operators by the end of 2019, an increase of 11% over the nearly 2.0 billion visits recorded for YE June 2017.

Lunch-to-go could soon account for 53% of overall lunch visits and 19% of all OOH visits in Britain each year.

Lavenant added: “Modest or zero wage growth coupled with rising inflation has prompted many consumers to trade down from dinner where we now see declining visits. Lunch meanwhile has strong appeal because it is affordable, and offers high quality and an enormous choice of formats and cuisines whether it is consumed on or off the premises.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that lunch is an increasingly relevant offer for consumers. Foodservice operators have also made their lunch products more attractive through time-saving technology such as contactless payment and click-and-collect apps.”

NPD says the ‘one to watch’ is the click-and-collect market. It is small but growing quickly, accounting for 56 million quick-service restaurant (QSR) visits for YE June 2017, up 25% on the same period a year earlier.

Click-and-collect at lunchtime appeals to consumers because it avoids the extra charge for delivery. The average bill for an OOH lunch in Britain is £3.56 (YE June 2017) but delivery can increase this significantly.

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