Ethnic takeaways and restaurants in the UK have suffered a decline of 123m fewer visits over the past three years but sales of spicy foods in supermarkets have soared, according to research by The NPD Group.
The findings suggest consumers are craving ethnic flavours more and more but are no longer flocking to their local curry house for a fix.
Almost all of this loss is due to the decline in evening dining visits to ethnic restaurants rather than takeaways, which account for 121.7m of the lost 123m visits in the three-year period. An even greater cause for concern for ethnic restaurants is the revisit intent scores. The NPD Group found 17 million fewer people would “definitely” choose to visit again, and almost 12m fewer would “probably” choose to revisit compared to 2009.
Guy Fielding, director of business development for The NPD Group, said: “Ethnic food may not be perceived as the everyday good value it once was. To compete with the supermarkets, ethnic operators need to change the price/value equation by introducing deals and promotions that resonate with consumers. The recession has made consumers more discriminating in the choices they make. Ethnic operators will need to get more sophisticated about the deal and promotion element of the business if they are to turn this decline around.”
The main reasons people gave for dining in ethnic restaurants in 2009 were: socialising with friends, dining as a couple, fitting in with shopping or running errands and spending time with the family. Without exception, significantly fewer people chose these as their primary motivation for seeking out an ethnic dining experience in 2012:
- Socialise with friends – 6.8m fewer consumers in 2012
- Dining as a couple – 5.6m fewer consumers in 2012
- Fitted in with shopping/errands – 4.1m fewer consumers in 2012
- Spend time with family – 2.2m fewer consumers in 2012
Fielding said: “These findings are a real wake up call for ethnic restaurant operators to take a hard look at their offering. This not only includes the décor, atmosphere, layout and cleanliness of their establishments, but their service levels and promotions too. It’s time to move from dark and dated décor to light and lively to ensure restaurants remain a place where people want to spend time socialising with their friends and family.”