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UK love affair with “pub grub” on the rocks

16 November 2012

  • 32% of UK consumers are eating meals in pubs less frequently compared to two years earlier
  • Adults aged 45 years and older are the most likely to have cut down

London, [16th November 2012] – Almost one in three UK adults now say they are eating fewer pub lunches compared to two years earlier, with this attitude particularly apparent among older adults. This is despite consumers indicating they are generally satisfied with the food available in the channel. While young adults may be more willing to continue to eat in pubs, the results show that the channel is struggling to maintain the custom of older adults despite their improving financial situations.

A total of 32% of UK adults now say that they are eating less meals in pubs compared to two years ago – twice as many as those who are eating more. This is despite people saying that they believe pub menus have improved in the last few years, as well as saying they are satisfied with the variety, value and (to a lesser extent) quality of food on offer in such establishments.  

On a demographic basis, consumers over the age of 45 are particularly likely to say they have cut down the number of meals in this channel (38%), while those aged 18-24 years old are the least likely (15%). The results indicate how pub food is preferred more by younger adults, with older consumers trading up more to restaurants compared to two years ago, as their financial situation improves.

The impact of the recession on consumer finances has brought about forced changes in socialising habits, with people still wanting to spend time enjoying leisure occasions with friends and family, but seeking out more affordable ways to do so. A prime example of this is people looking to make eating out less expensive by trading down from restaurants to pubs. The pub channel responded to this changing behaviour trait in an effective manner; ensuring their menu offerings represented an acceptable compromise.

Indeed, Canadean Consumer research found that 60% of people believe pub menus have improved in the last five years; 66% feel that a good variety of food is served; 75% think that the food served is good value for money; and 52% that it is good quality. This shows that the willingness to reduce eating occasions in the channel, particularly among older adults, is driven by a desire to trade-up to channels perceived as better, as opposed to an inherent dissatisfaction with the pub channel.

Michael Hughes, Research Manager at Canadean Consumer, commented: “Although older adults are particularly impressed with the variety and quality of food served in pubs, as well as improvements to menus over the last few years, the results show that pubs are not seen by this group as appealing enough to maintain their custom, and that they will ultimately trade back up to restaurants that they deem better quality, once their financial situation improves.”

Hughes concludes “This shows that pubs still need to make improvements to their overall dining proposition, if they are to effectively compete with restaurants and maintain the custom of this affluent group.”

UK love affair with “pub grub” on the rocks

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