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Report: How to get more covers in your restaurant

12 November 2019 Data Insights

The public’s eating habits and preferences are changing. With a hostile trading environment threatening high street establishments, restauranteurs will need to adapt to meet the needs of their patrons. 

Our market report, Restaurant Insights 2020, uncovers what diners truly want from restaurants. 

With 50 million adults eating out in Great Britain each year – and 2.4 billion eating-out occasions, according to our estimates – there are plenty of opportunities to get people’s taste buds tingling.

Want to get into all the data and detail? You can download the Paymentsense annual market report ‘Restaurant Insights 2020’ now.

Who’s dining out and when?

Young people are most likely to eat out. Almost half of young families and people under 35 living in shared accommodation or as a couple say they eat once a week. That falls to a quarter of empty nesters or retirees who do the same. 

While 94% of people will dine out for an evening meal, lunch is almost as popular, and breakfast and brunch attract 35 million adults each year.

Saturday is the best day for sales, but Sunday is historically an excellent opportunity, too, as restaurants can claim 40% of a consumer’s spend on this day. Consumers will fork out about 12% more on average in winter and red-letter days such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and bank holidays. So, securing these bookings is especially lucrative.

Convenience and simplicity

Overall, consumers want their dining experience to be quick and simple. Waiting too long for food is the biggest frustration for 59% of consumers – who could be known as the ‘impatient generation’. Millennials might be assumed to be the main culprits but it’s retired people and empty nesters who are most likely to be annoyed by tardy service. One in five consumers said waiting to pay the bill is one of the things that irritates them most, and 4% said it takes too long to split the bill.

Technology is key to attracting customers and improving their dining experience. Whether it’s having an up-to-date website and appearing on review sites to grab the attention of 40% of consumers, offering multiple booking options to the 91% of consumers who like to reserve a table, or bringing the card machine out with the bill to accommodate the 29% of consumers say this would improve their dining experience.

The value of quality and experience

Nothing can ever make up for poor food and service, though. 71% view customer service as important or very important, 69% would say to same for the cuisine, and 68% place emphasis on price.

Consumers reckon healthy food options should be one the menu: 71% say health should not be disregarded. Obvious, right? Perhaps not. Only 48% of restaurant owners are considering these types of dishes.

The option to customise menus, such as by swapping sides or part of a meal, ranked highly, too. And 38% would pay extra for a unique experience that’s above and beyond ordinary expectations.

You may also want to consider knocking some airmiles off your meals, too. Ethical considerations are important to 66% of the population, with local produce, transparency in the food supply chain, and offering organic food all of interest to consumers.

Regional attitudes to eating out

Great Britain is varied in its approach to dining out. London seems to be focussed on experience, ethics, and health, while Scottish consumers are more price sensitive and put convenience at the bottom of their priorities. London also sees the most loyal customers, with consumers, on average, visiting the same restaurant six times a year – a third more than the rest of the UK.

Most regions agreed, however, that they enjoy British cuisine best. The exceptions were London, East Anglia, and the South East, for whom Italian food is their favourite. 

What does it all mean? 

Knowing consumers’ habits gives your restaurant the knowledge to adapt to their needs and build a loyal customer base, which is vital given that 67% of consumers are influenced by word of mouth. To find out more useful statistics on customers’ views of the restaurant sector, their habits, and predictions on restaurants of the future, download the Paymentsense annual market report.


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