MCA Insight client services director Josh Ford told the audience in Sheffield that the change in consumer behaviour is helping pubs.
Citing information from MCA’s Pub Market Report, he said: “In 2018, there is a 1.6% growth in turnover, outlets are still declining slightly but the managed, independent and free-of-tie sector is pushing growth.
“Dining out is becoming a lot more informal, which plays into the hands of the pub sector. The same can be said for friendly service and good value being very important.”
Predicting the future
However, Ford didn’t just deliver good news. He stated that as food offerings across the UK eating out market are improving, pubs are starting to fall behind and struggle with this.
When it came to predicting the future, however, Ford was optimistic about what it holds for the pub sector.
He said: “Looking ahead is a positive story. The growth is going to come from the independent, free-of-tie and managed pub sector.
“However, when looking back, the pub sector has worked very hard to rebrand itself and challenge coffee shops and restaurants when it comes to that third space.”
Across day parts
Ford remained positive about the pub trade and specifically about a particular day part in which pubs are doing well.
He added: “Pubs are gaining at dinner occasions. According to our report, more than one quarter of dinner visits are in the pub.”
Ford also outlined how alcohol consumption has dropped and the report stated the two reasons were because it was too expensive and due to a change in lifestyle.
He concluded with advice for operators on urging them to focus more on vegetarian options, experiential offerings and drinks with a lower ABV.