Sunny May leaves pubs short on diners

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Decline: diners ate at the pub less during sunny May
Decline: diners ate at the pub less during sunny May

Related tags: Food, Barbecue, Pub

Food pubs did not feel the benefit of the unseasonably warm May, with budget-sensitive diners opting for home barbecues or picnics in the park, new data shows.

According to the latest MCA Eating Out Panel report for May 2018, the hot weather and two sunny bank holiday weekends did not push punters into pubs, compared to the same period last year.

“There was a fall in overall participation and a concerning fall in frequency at every meal time, with lunch most heavily affected,” the report said of the whole eating-out sector.

“Pubs, usually popular in sunnier conditions, were among the worst to suffer, as the budget-sensitive seemingly opted for the cheaper alternatives of barbecues and picnics, as well as royal wedding street parties, over on-premise dining in pubs and restaurants.”

All meal occasions, bar breakfast, suffered across the eating-out sector, the report continued. Visit spend for the most important meal of the day rose, while consumers continued to economise at “higher spent meal times”, such as lunch and dinner.

“Average visit values declined as consumers traded down to lower cost channels, not least to fast food,” the report said.

Overall, pubs remained the most popular venues for breakfast, with visits up two percentage points on the year.

The average spend at breakfast across the eating out category increased by 8% to £5.39. Lunchtime average spend declined by 1% to £7.87 and dinner spend dipped by 2% to £18.23.

Pubs lose out

For lunch, pubs lost out by one percentage point, and suffered a further decline of two percentage points (pp) for dinner.

Fast food, however, saw increases across all meal occasions, with breakfast, lunch and dinner gaining more diners.

The most popular dishes include the full English (+1pp), sweet muffins (+1pp), beef burger for dinner (+1pp) and pizza (+3pp).

Take-up of popular lunchtime dishes, such as sandwiches, salads and baguettes, remained flat.

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