Foodservice analyst Peter Backman says the spectre of the UK’s impending exit from the EU has left the industry “eerily quiet” over the past three months.
With uncertainty chipping away at consumer confidence, Mr Backman said operators were feeling the pinch on the top line as customers heed caution.
“The last quarter has been eerily quiet, as if the industry is waiting for something to happen. Brexit – perhaps,” he wrote in his latest bulletin. “Consumer confidence has been volatile, with some fearful about becoming unemployed, despite only a relatively small increase in unemployment to 3.9%.
“Given this stable, uneventful period, it’s surprising that consumers are spending less in restaurants and pubs. Yet, they are making increasing use of delivered meals from restaurants, despite the high price.”
Mr Backman said there was a “sense of trepidation and caution” over the prospect of the situation worsening and added that it was “unlikely” to change before the end of the year.
“The positive to note is the businesses that rely on overseas customers. They have been doing well, based on the low value of sterling and the overall growth of 13% in overseas visitors to the UK this year,” he noted.
He also pinpointed the growing number of restaurant brands and retailers targeting delivery.
Sainsbury’s started trials of delivery of store baked pizza via Deliveroo, Pret A Manger and Deliveroo announced an exclusive partnership, initially in London and The Restaurant Group launched Jumping Pans, to join its other delivery brands – Pyjama Hotel, Stacks, Burger and Kick Ass Burrito – through UberEats and Just Eat.
Meanwhile, Bistrot Pierre launched Birds, Buns and Bowls – its virtual delivery brand, and Starbucks expanded its delivery service in London, Manchester and Glasgow, in partnership with UberEats.
Meanwhile, M&B has turned bricks and mortar Chicken Society into a virtual delivery brand in London and four other cities.