The number of restaurants in Britain fell by 0.4 per cent in the year to March, the new edition of the Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners reveals.
The decline comes amid fears among many operators of oversupply of sites in the market and is a sign of the challenges that are currently faced by casual dining operators, following a sustained period of new openings.
Market Growth Monitor data shows that restaurant numbers rose by 15.6 per cent since March 2013, but planned site closures by several major brands have now helped to contribute to a fall over the last 12 months. The 0.4 per cent decline is equivalent to nearly two net closures a week in the restaurant sector.
Research from CGA’s suite of market-leading sources indicates broadly flat sales, rising food costs and modest but improving confidence among leaders of the out-of-home eating and drinking sectors. A further retrenchment in restaurant numbers is now likely in the second half of 2018, the Monitor suggests — though many casual dining brands continue to expand their estates around Britain.
Across all licensed premises, the Market Growth Monitor records a 1.3 per cent fall in numbers in the 12 months to March 2018. That marks an acceleration in the pace of closures since the last edition of the Monitor, which recorded a year on year drop of 0.3 per cent.
But despite the challenges in some sectors and some parts of Britain, the Monitor also identifies a more positive picture in other areas — especially major cities in the north of England. In Leeds, the number of food-led licensed premises rocketed by 37.9 per cent in the five years to March 2018, with growth in Manchester (33.6 per cent) and Liverpool (31.9 per cent) nearly as steep. The report also shows a rise in the number of entertainment-based licensed premises, contrasting with a decline in circuit bars.