Research predicts restaurant growth by almost a third

The restaurant market could grow by almost a third in 2021, according to latest predictions by Lumina Intelligence.

The insight company’s UK Restaurant Market Report 2020/21 forecasts growth to £11.7 billion to pep up a sector that contracted by 53.1%. in 2020.

That growth is one of three alternative scenarios for market recovery in 2021, with the other assuming a slight delay in the government’s proposed timelines – and even if indoor dining is closed until late May and all restrictions are relaxed until August, a 24% growth is still predicted.

A worst-case scenario where restrictions don’t ease fully by October gives  more sombre outlook, with only a 6.2% market growth under those circumstances.

The good news is that consumer confidence is slowly improving, with more than half of consumers (52%) very or extremely likely to dine in at restaurants before June. Another 40% of those surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that they feel confident eating out, regardless of contactless ordering and payment technology – a rise to 56% with tech in place.

Other secondary factors such as holding live music, pub quizzes and offering promotions such as a bottomless brunch were also seen as likely to encourage more people into venues.

“With a series of dates to work towards, operators can start to build a clear plan for the reopening of the hospitality sector,” says Lumina Intelligence Insight Manager, Katherine Prowse.

“Despite pent-up demand from consumers for returning to the channel, operators will need to work hard to reassure consumers of the safety measures in place.

“Technology will play a key role in doing this. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they would be more confident in visiting a restaurant if contact with staff and menus is restricted through the use of apps and QR codes.

“Focusing on the experiential side of dining out will be key to driving footfall. Over a quarter of consumers would be more likely to dine in at a restaurant that offered live music.

“With unemployment at its highest since 2016 and the threat of increased inflation, we have to recognise that restaurant visits are likely to be an infrequent treat. Experiences and events – as well as tech innovation – should encourage visits whilst discretionary income is under greater scrutiny.”

coronavirus covid-19 hospitality Katherine Prowse Lumina Intelligence