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Consumers remain reticent to spend and want the world on a plate.

Posted on 8th September 2010 in Insight
Written by: Fiona Rickard

Many consumers in the UK remain more likely to save than spend and are cutting back on food and eating out where necessary. The broadcaster Sky News surveyed 1,000 adults in the country to gain an understanding of their individual circumstances, attitudes and preferences. A majority agreed their personal financial situation had depreciated in the last year, and anxiety about the future was equally widespread. Nearly two-thirds of the panel knew at least one person who had been made redundant in the previous 12 months, and 54% of respondents that were still employed felt less secure. When asked if shoppers should be encouraged to boost their outlay to overcome the recession, 58% thought it “makes more sense to tighten our belts and save what we can,” and 20% were unsure.

In identifying the areas in which they would be most prepared to trim budgets, food came top of the list, followed by holidays and out-of-home dining. Pets and broadband subscriptions were the two things people proved least enthusiastic about giving up, according to the study. Clearly consumers are concerned about the impact the current climate is having on their financial situation and are uncertain about their job security, and costs of food, drink, petrol, energy is impacting negatively on their willingness to spend on non essential food and eating out. We have yet to see what affect this may have on the foodservice market but we do know that an estimated 2,000 pubs and bars are predicted to close by the end of 2013.

Mapped onto this scenario is the prediction from the market analyst Datamonitor that nearly 300 new cafes and 1,900 new full service restaurants are expected to open for business by the end of 2013 indicating a fundamental shift towards a more continental way of eating and drinking. It is well documented that pubs and bars are closing at an alarming rate influenced by the fact that consumers are seeking venues that are more cultured for socialising and eating with friends. That said we are not living a totally European lifestyle yet and the quintessential pub will remain part of our cultural tapestry as we still have nearly 10 times more pubs and bars in the UK than in France but only a third the number of full service restaurants and cafes. One trend that appears to be emerging in the restaurant sector is towards bigger venues with a more cosmopolitan menu. In November an 800-cover restaurant, claiming to be the largest restaurant in the UK, is due to open in Croydon and will serve more than 300 different dishes from all over the world with Asian and European food at the forefront of the menu. Cosmo already operates restaurants in eight different locations across the UK (Chatham, Tunbridge, Hastings Romford, Swindon, Bristol, Cardiff and Coventry) which create an experience for customers where they can taste cross country food within one premises without the need to travel. Further openings are planned in Birmingham and Manchester within 3 years as the owners roll out plans to export its ‘all the world on a plate’ concept to the Continent. The Croydon restaurant will be the first of Cosmo’s outlets to diversify from the Pan Asian menu, with previous outlets across the South East of England and the Midlands operating as Chinese buffets or Pan Asian restaurants. In addition, the chain is hoping to take the concept to Europe, with outlets proposed in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. An interesting venue to visit and assess the delivery of diversity, scale, quality, authenticity, value for money, culture and consumer experience. We will feedback our assessment post opening…..

Sources: Sky News; WARC, Datamonitor and