Data from the NPD Group’s Pub Tracker uncovered that while pub visits continue to decline, this number was marginally better than the number of total out-of-home visits – 0.3% and 0.4% respectively to the year ending September 2018.
Consumers visiting pubs during the week also fell by 0.3%, and it was the same for weekend visits.
NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport said: “Pub visits continued to decline in the year ending September 2018 with recent ONS data showing continued pub closures, however, in the most recent quarter we have seen visit growth, with pubs performing slightly better than the wider foodservice market.
“This decline in visits was driven by a significant decrease in visits to independents, which were down by 14.3% to September 2018, while small and large brands continue to increase traffic.”
He added: “The biggest dayparts for pubs are lunch and dinner, which are both losing traffic in the year to September. Lunch, which accounts for 35.3% of visits, has seen traffic decline by 2.9% while dinner, which accounts for 36.8%, has seen traffic decline by 4%.”
Allport did highlight where the pub market is doing well with adapting to changing consumer preferences. He said: “Despite this, pubs are performing well when it comes to snacking occasions, growing visits by 15.1% for afternoon snacks and 10.2% for late-night snacks.
“Families are a big consumer group for pubs, accounting for 35.7% of total visits and traffic is growing year-on-year by 5.2%, while adult-only occasions declined by 3.1%.
“For the second consecutive quarter, the 18 to 24-year-old demographic is growing visits. This age group has grown in visit terms by 7.7% compared to the year ending September 2017.”
It wasn’t just food that impacted the number of visits to the pub but also a particular drink, which can benefit the morning footfall.
Allport said: “This growth was driven by the summer’s World Cup and heatwave and by the rise in premium gins and craft beer, which are becoming increasingly popular with the younger generation.
“Coffee has been increasing in importance in pubs, growing by 2.2 percentage points in incidence in the past year with many branded chains really pushing their coffee offer with quality suppliers and free refill promotions.
“Pubs have the opportunity to really leverage their coffee offer to grow their breakfast occasions, while keeping in mind that breakfast is a very price sensitive daypart, so it is absolutely essential the value for money proposition is accurate.”