British casual dining restaurants have seen a 7% increase in customer visits to an additional 35 million visits more than the previous year, according to a report by global information company The NPD Group for the year ending June 2018.
These visits account for 5% of the total eat-out or out-of-home (OOH) foodservice sector visits. However, the overall OOH market has seen a decline of 43 million visits during the year.
The report also shows that around £6bn was spent by customers on casual dining for the year ending in June 2018 while spending on casual dining restaurants increased four times faster than the total market.
The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport said: “Casual dining restaurants remain one of the key growth stories in Britain’s OOH foodservice market, despite the high-profile closures, rescues and restructuring seen in this sector in recent months. But while the market is expanding, success is not guaranteed.
“One of the problems has been the tendency for some operators to scale up too quickly, with ‘quantity of sites’ outweighing ‘quality of sites’.
“Some of the newer brands are also failing to set themselves apart from competitors, leaving consumers with the sense they are getting similar menus, similar venues and similar customer experiences. But the biggest issue is the pressure on profit margins with business rates, rent, food and labour all costing more in an over-supplied market.”
The report also noted the expansion of casual dining chains in London is now less inclined as the business rates revaluation of last year impacted many operators.
London registered a three million increase in casual dining visits compared to the previous year while south-east and south-west of England experienced 23 million visits.
Delivery service across the casual dining market increased visits by 9%, and order ahead/click and collect visits and visits using meal deals or promotion were up by 25% and 16% respectively.
Social media has also played a vital in increasing the number of visits to casual dining restaurants through positive comments on review sites.