QSRs tipped to win returning lunchtime trade

Britain’s Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) are set to benefit from a change in lunchtime buying habits among consumers over the next three years, analysts are forecasting.

‘Out of Home’ foodservice visits at lunchtime dipped sharply between 2011 and the start of 2012, but over the past year there has been a notable improvement in traffic.

Research firm The NPD Group said that the bounceback in the sector was faster than had been seen in the pub trade.

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Lunch sales within the QSR sector will increase between 2% and 3.6% on an annual basis over the next three years, it predicted.

Guy Fielding, director of business development for The NPD Group, said: “Breakfast was a strong theme in 2012 and we saw breakfast and mid-morning snacks taking a bite from lunchtime spend and creating a ‘mid-day dip’. So a clear casualty during the recession, so far as the British foodservice industry is concerned, was the lunchtime occasion. We are now watching lunch closely as we expect this to be the next ‘day part’ to start to recover from the recessionary slump.”

According to the NPD Group, QSRs are recovering faster than pubs because they provide the most affordable lunches compared with other channels.

£3.42 was the average spend at QSR outlets last year, compared with a total market average of £4.46.

Leading QSR brands in the burger and coffee segments have also created successful value combinations and retail operators have put together lunch deals centred around sandwiches, drinks and a snack.

“QSR remains the industry bright spot with sales growth expected to hold at just over 2% through 2015,” added Fielding. “For the lunch occasion, QSR is also the driver. QSR lunch visits accounted for over half of all lunch visits – reaching 52% as of year-end March 2013 — so anything happening here will eventually have an effect on total out of home lunch consumption.”

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