Britain’s foodservice spend was down 80% in April 2020

Global information company The NPD Group has revealed weekly spend in British foodservice in April 2020 was just over £200m, compared to April 2019’s weekly spend level of around £1bn – a fall of 80%.

In addition, the decline in British out-of-home (OOH) foodservice visits in April 2020 was almost three times as severe as the collapse seen during the financial crisis of 2008-2010.

Lockdown officially started on 23 March, but many people were already avoiding eating out, meaning that by the end of Q1 2020 there was a 10% year-on-year deterioration in OOH visits. NPD said this decline “accelerated dramatically” in April and for the two-month period of March and April 2020 the fall was 54%.

It also found that personal or online recommendations became “increasingly important” in April 2020, accounting for nearly 8% of visits in comparison to the 4% to 5% level seen in the past five years.

At dinner time, personal or online recommendations accounted for almost 10% of all visits, compared to the usual figure of 4%.

Dominic Allport, insights director foodservice, The NPD Group, said: “The scale of the crash in out-of-home foodservice visits is unprecedented and the 80% fall in spend underlines the severity of the collapse.

“As we start to come out of lockdown, consumers are likely to be sensitive to prices and value for money. Value-related visits should increase rapidly in the same way as the 2008-2010 financial crisis when price-driven or voucher-driven visits rose sharply.”

He added: “However, it’s important to sound a note of caution. While reopening and initial recovery is imminent, and the relaxation of social distancing is welcome, the eating-out industry has a huge task ahead if it is to return to anything like normal trading.

“ The good news is this is an extremely innovative and creative sector, and we know it will adapt fast to create the ‘new normal’.”

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