The competition to attract consumers for lunch out-of-home (OOH) has become more intense than ever between branded operators and independents.
Figures released by global analyst NPD Group show that as of the year ending June 2008, there were 13 chains with a 1%+ share of the OOH lunch market. By the year ending June 2016 this had grown to 17 chains.
NPD data shows the average bill for eating an OOH breakfast is 31% higher (at £3.30) than it was eight years earlier. In contrast, the average bill for lunch is only 6.5% higher over the same period (£4.57 v £4.29). Since the year ending June 2008, lunch has lost over 80 million visits, while breakfast has added an extra 107 million.
NPD Group says more people are having breakfast out because they don't have the time to focus on it at home.
Although lunch has declined during the week in visit terms, it is seeing strong growth at weekends, with 8% more visits than eight years ago. Breakfast is doing even better with over 20% more weekend visits. Meanwhile, lunch is increasingly relying on deals with a 5% increase in OOH lunch visits involving promotions and meal deals (from 23% of all OOH lunch visits year ending June 2008 to 28% for year ending June 2016).
For year ending June 16 vs year ending June 08, on-premise visits were up 5.8%, while off-premise (‘lunch on the go') visits were down 6.3%. However, lunch on-the-go visits have recently picked up, increasing in the past year to June 2016 by 3.9% versus a slower growth of 1.7% for on-premise visits.
Meanwhile, our tastes for lunch purchased away from home are showing no evidence of change. Sandwiches or wraps are our food of choice, with one-third (33%) of all lunch visits including these items much higher than burgers (15.9%) or chips/French fries (14%). Over 25% of visits involve the purchase of a carbonated soft drink. More than twice as many OOH lunch visits (15% v 7%) involve coffee rather than tea.
Cyril Lavenant, NPD's director of foodservice UK, said: "Foodservice operators providing lunches of all kinds are working in an intensively competitive marketplace. The well known brands are succeeding at the expense of independent operators. But the bigger story is that it's easier than ever before to buy a good breakfast on the high street.
"In addition, some 16% of breakfast occasions away from home occur at the relatively late time of between 10am and 11am, meaning that lunch for some might then become just a quick bite of something light that people bring from home. In that case, they would skip buying their lunch from outside. So as breakfast away from home grows, especially if this happens later in the morning, there is a danger breakfast will cannibalise lunch business. That's a trend foodservice operators should watch."
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