Exclusive: Almost 60% of adults eating out in pubs once a month

By Chris Wisson

- Last updated on GMT

High quality food is a top reason for people to visit pubs
High quality food is a top reason for people to visit pubs

Related tags Pubs Alcoholic beverage

The PMA has partnered with market researcher Mintel to provide insight from its new leisure tracker, which covers pub visiting habits. Senior analyst Chris Wisson reveals more.

Britain’s pubs remain popular — almost six in 10 Brits went to a pub for a meal, and 51% just for drinks, in the month to October 2015. Pub dining is the most popular leisure activity overall, with roughly one third of adults eating in a pub more than once in a one-month period, marginally ahead of the number who ate at restaurants.


Among those who drank in pubs, almost two thirds spent less than £20 on their most recent visit. Nevertheless, a third of adults spent more than £20, possibly indicating that ‘buying rounds’ remains commonplace, but also how there are opportunities for venues to stock drinks that encourage bigger spend, such as sparkling wines, premium spirits and craft beer. Indeed, licensees can use craft beer to tap into the increasing association between food and beer.


Only a third of adults who ate in pubs in the month to October 2015 spent less than £20 on their last meal (including drinks). Meanwhile, four in 10 spent £20 to £40 and a fifth exceeded £40.

Key points
* With consumer confidence and financial situations improving, consumers are likely to maintain or even increase their current level of leisure spend in venues such as pubs
* Many consumers are going out less, but looking for better quality when they do so. Premium and memorable leisure experiences — such as a high-quality dish or entertainment in pubs — are likely to be seen as justifying their price and make them more likely to be repeated in the future
* Food can be highly lucrative, and pubs can stand out with a high-quality menu. Clearly communicating this on your website could help to capitalise
* Pub preferences remain divisive. For example, the presence of children and live sport is not always welcome and could deter many from visiting
* Pubs should further explore engaging and incentivised social media activity to enhance their popularity

Overall spending on pub food is comparable to restaurants, although restaurants do have a higher proportion of users who spent £40 or more on their last visit (29%, compared to 21% for pubs).

More than a quarter of nightclub/late-night bar goers spent more than £40 on their last visit to these venues, showing how there is also still significant money to be made in the late-night market.

Dinner with a partner; drinks with friends

Pubs and restaurants are also very similar in terms of who their customers visit and dine with. In both cases, half do so with their partner, showing how important it is for menus to appeal to both genders. However, the trend differs slightly when it comes to consumers who visit pubs only to drink: although 40% of pub drinkers did so with their partner, a higher proportion met up with friends (54%).


Predictably, the difference was even more pronounced when it comes to clubs and late-night bars: 29% had been with their partner, compared to 64% who had been with friends.

Effective footfall drivers

The pub trade has changed significantly in the past decade and continues to. Pubs play an important role in the British psyche, with previous Mintel research showing that about half of pubgoers think that they are an important way of British life.

When presented with a list of pub-related activities, pubgoers were most likely to identify ‘high-quality food’ as the reason for visiting. Over-55s are particularly likely to state this reason (33%), indicating that a quality food menu could be an effective way of tapping into the older demographic, which often has more disposable income and free time.

Making the most of menu enticements such as handmade dishes, locally sourced ingredients and seasonal ingredients can help to substantiate pubs’ claims of having a premium food offering.


Licensees can also tap into the popularity of celebrations such as birthdays, with about a fifth of pubgoers having a celebratory meal in a pub/bar in the month to October 2015. High-quality food options, designated dining areas and a wider range of sparkling wines are possible ways of making these special occasion visits feel special and memorable.

The same proportion also checked a pub’s website before deciding whether to visit, with women most likely to do so (23%). That women are significantly more likely than men to have ordered a lower calorie drink or dish (13% v 6%) suggests that calorie information on the website would probably also be well received by women in particular.

Mintel’s newly launched leisure tracker charts consumer activity and spending across the UK leisure industry. For more information on Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, visit or email

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