Footfall traffic growth

Footfall traffic growth during the morning is a trend that should not be missed

We continue to monitor the UK Foodservice trends using Meaningful Vision’s Consumer Traffic Intelligence data from April 2023. Let’s see what new opportunities have opened up for market operators. 

The restaurant industry is still recovering after the pandemic; how does this affect visitor traffic in food outlets throughout the day? The fastest growth in consumer footfall is during the morning: breakfast, morning snacks, takeaway coffee, etc.

In the UK, breakfast is traditionally an important out-of-home meal, accounting for a quarter of all daily foodservice traffic across various establishments and locations.

The early bird catches the worm
According to data from January to April 2023, and compared to the same period in 2022, morning visitor traffic in the top 100 foodservice chains from the restaurants database we monitor increased by 36%, while overall traffic only grew by 4% during the same period.  That is impressive growth! 

At Meaningful Vision, we believe that the peak of growth has not yet been reached.  This dynamic is explained chiefly by the return of employees to offices and the overall rise of business activity.  Of course, major city centres are the main points of attraction; in business districts of metropolises, the share of breakfast sales is growing faster than the overall market, with an increase of 55%, and early breakfasts (before 9 am) are growing even faster, nearly 80%.  The lion’s share of the morning traffic is accounted for by coffee shops and bakeries, which offer quick breakfast, fresh pastries, and takeaway coffee.

Who benefits from this growth? 
Primarily, the big fast food players such as Gregg’s, McDonald’s, Pret-A-Manger, Costa Coffee, and Starbucks.  It’s important to note, there are many reasons customers choose these well known brands, besides the fact they open early!  The crucial factor being a convenient location, those areas around office centres, train stations, and underground stations on people’s main routes to work benefitting the most.  Other reasons for attracting morning guests include the availability of special menus, combo offers, promotions, quality of service, and takeaway options in convenient package.  Customers actively use timely food ordering apps, Click&Collect terminals, and the Drive-thru option.

Interestingly, only 10% of all network foodservice locations open their doors before 9 am and offer early breakfast to their customers, although we see significant potential in this segment. The majority of places open at 9 am, and many open their doors after 11-12. Staff shortage remains a significant restraining factor for growth.

How can you identify and capitalise on market trends?
Meaningful Vision research data indicates that morning visits are growing at the fastest rate and have significant growth potential. Quick breakfasts and snacks are a convenient option for people who are in a hurry to go to work and are not willing or able to spend time waiting for their order. In the future, as more employees return to the office, these demands will only increase.

For city centres, employees’ returning to full-time office work means a twofold increase in the restaurant business in the morning hours (see Blog 1 for details). But even if the work model for many people remains hybrid, the potential for breakfast growth is significant.

This trend opens up new opportunities for restaurant operators. How can you fully capitalise on these possibilities?  First and foremost, it is vital to understand what other players in the market are doing, how fast they are growing, what they offer on their menu, what price levels competitors provide, and what promotions they run. These answers to these questions, and many more besides, are provided by Meaningful Vision’s data.  Ask our experts – we will help you stay in touch with market changes at all times.

Watch the webinar “The Power of Consumer Traffic as Your Ultimate Performance Metric” run by Maria Vanifatova, CEO of Meaningful Vision Ltd

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