Research from the CGA has suggested that many hospitality venues are expanding their menus and growing starter, side and dessert sales as trading restrictions loosen. Previous research from the CGA after the reopening of hospitality in April showed that operators had scaled back menus to an average of 14 main dishes during outside service—just over half of the pre-COVID average. Operational constraints, unpredictable demand and the risk of wastage in the outdoor-only period all prompted venues to reduce choice.
However, the return of indoor service and the greater freedom to trade has allowed venues to broaden their range again. MealMetrics data shows menus had an average of 30 main dishes on offer in July—more than double the April number. It also indicates that spending on main dishes has increased from pre-COVID levels, with an average of £10.94 paid in July, 14% higher than the average of £9.58 in July 2019. This is in line with CGA research that suggests consumers are willing to make eating out a spending priority after 16 months of lockdowns.
James Ashurst, CGA client director commented “The widening of menus is a welcome sign that eating out is starting to return to normal, and it’s encouraging to see that many consumers are spending freely. While people are tending to stick to tried and trusted dishes, the growing share of starters suggests that COVID has changed eating habits in subtle but significant ways. Suppliers will need to keep a close eye on evolving preferences and help operators adapt their menus accordingly”.
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