Chips are down for traditional outlets falling behind in QSR race

SCARBOROUGH, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 14:  Traditional Fish and Chips dominate the harbour scene on 14 August, 2007, Scarborough, England. The traditional British seaside holiday has managed to maintain is attraction in the face of ever increasing competition from cheap flights, bringing the promise of foreign sun within reach of almost all budgets.  The prospect of sand castles, donkey rides and the 'end of the Pier show' remain a draw for thousands of holiday makers every year.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Traditional British fish and chip shops are losing out on business whilst competitor QSR restaurants are attracting more traffic than ever before.

That’s the claim being made by global information company, The NPD Group, which says QSR outlets serving fast-food recorded 6 billion visits in the last year, up 9.2% since 2009. Meanwhile, there were 327m visits to fish and chips over the same period, down 4.4% over the past eight years.

Whilst fish and chip outlets remain part of the £21.5 billion burgeoning QSR channel, they are reportedly missing out on growth. The claim is that fish and chip shops are trailing the expansion of Britain’s wider QSR market by nearly 14 percentage points. Fish and chips now only represent 5.6% of total QSR, compared to 6.4% in 2009.

Fish and chip operators however are far from out of the game. More than one in three (36%) people say they visit fish and chip shops for the quality of the food but for QSR outlets generally quality is a lower motivation at one in four visits (24%).

“The nation’s fish and chip operators must adapt to changing trends. When was the last time you saw an exciting meal promotion at your local fish and chip shop that matches the kind of thing you see when you buy a burger or fried chicken?”

But they need to keep up with market trends, in particular in regards to millennial consumers. This group accounts for 30% of QSR visits but they appear to see fish and chips as out-of-touch and only contribute around 15% of the visits to a local chippy.

Fish and chip shops have “little appetite for profit”, says NPD Group. In the wider QSR market, the price per item was up by 7.5% between 2009 and 2017 but for fish and chips the increases over those eight years shrink to just 2.6%.

There are weaknesses around lunchtime business and meal deals too. QSR outlets generally attract more than 35% of their daily visits at lunchtime, but for fish and chips it’s 24%. Some fish and chip shops are closed at lunchtime in any case and for those that are open the portions offered are often too big for lunch and packaging can make it difficult to bring this kind of food back to the office or to eat in a public space such as a park.

WESTON-SUPER-MARE, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: A sign outside a cafe advertises traditional fish and chips as people enjoy the fine weather on June 11, 2015 in Weston-Super-Mare, England. Many traditional British seaside resorts are gearing up for the summer season and will be hoping that the traditional attractions offered will help keep visitor numbers up. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “With the exception of two types of quick-service food – fish and chips as well as ‘ethnic’ takeaways such as kebabs – all of the quick service channels in Britain have managed to grow since the 2008/2009 recession because they have transformed their business.

“The British foodservice market could be worth more than £57 billion by the end of 2018 and attracting 11.5 billion visits each year. But the nation’s fish and chip operators must adapt to changing trends if they want a slice of that success. When was the last time you saw an exciting meal promotion at your local fish and chip shop that matches the kind of thing you see when you buy a burger or fried chicken? Fish and chip shops need to build on their reputation for quality, bring in the lunchtime traffic, and match the big quick-service competitors with lively meal deals.”

Eating on the premises is another area in which fish and chips outlets are missing out. Growing QSR businesses have seating and offer coffee, tea, soft drinks and desserts. One in three (29%) people going to a high-street fast-food outlet sit down for their meal. This is nearly five times higher than for fish and chip shops (6%), which seldom offer an enjoyable on-premise meal experience, according to the group.

Lavenant added: “How often can you sit down to eat your fish and chips in a pleasant environment and order a drink or dessert?  Here’s another reason why customers are trickling away. Eating out is a crowded marketplace with exciting new approaches to food. But the fish and chips world just doesn’t seem to get it. Millennials are certainly unimpressed and probably see fish and chips as old fashioned. How long can this decline last? Our traditional fish and chip shops are in real danger of one day disappearing from the British high street.”

Pictures: Getty

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