Ten hospitality trends to follow in 2021

As the market reopens after lockdown, CGA Senior Client Manager Dani Rowlands highlights some of the big developments to watch out for in the short, medium and long term
Download the full report to see more trends

1 Al fresco eating and drinking

With England and Wales limited to outside service for the first five weeks of reopening, the trend for al fresco eating and drinking has been borne out of necessity. But after major investment by pubs and restaurants in outside spaces—and moves by some authorities to pedestrianise streets in busy city centres, like London’s Soho and Manchester’s Northern Quarter—its appeal could well extend into the rest of 2021 and beyond. As always with the British outdoors, much will depend on the weather.


2 Renewed interest in local and suburban venues

While so many people continue to work from home, venues in local communities and suburban areas could have the edge during the first phase of reopening. This is good news in particular for pubs, which have returned quicker and traded better in the period of outdoor-only service.


3 City centres to return gradually

While consumers are staying close to home for now, the reopening of offices and the return of tourism will help big city centres to recover in due course. The Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners has shown that city centre venues have remained resilient to closures, and as consumer confidence about safety increases, so will footfall.


4 Shifting days and dayparts

Hospitality’s last big reopening in July 2020 saw a notable flourish in sales on weekdays. With venues’ capacity reduced and some consumers still concerned about crowds, we will again see visits moved away from peak trading periods and spread more evenly across the week. Quieter dayparts, and associated offers like brunch and afternoon tea, are also set for more interest.


5 More premiumisation

After months of lockdown, many consumers will be looking to treat themselves and spend money they have saved. This is likely to continue the long-term trend of premiumisation in venues and drinks, providing operators with the chance to upsell and recoup some of the revenue that has been lost in the last 12 months. The increasing polarisation in demand between those seeking premium and value experiences could spell difficulty in the short-term for mainstream operators occupying the middle ground.


6 An easing of discount culture

The post-lockdown reset of hospitality and a celebratory public mood may present an opportunity for brands to move away from the culture of discounts and special offers that has swept the casual dining sector in particular. The hugely popular Eat Out to Help Out scheme showed that deals still appeal, but consumers’ desire to support hospitality might help get them accustomed to paying full price.


7 Demand for omnichannel experiences

CGA’s Hospitality at Home Tracker has revealed soaring sales of deliveries and takeaways during lockdowns, and restaurants’ premium meal kits and branded retail products have been popular too. While some of these customers will now revert to eating out, it is clear that all brands now need to appeal to at-home needs as well.


8 New digital paths to purchase

The pandemic has triggered a revolution in consumers’ use of technology to order and pay for food and drink out of home. Some of these guests will not want to return to analogue means of engagement, and business leaders know that smart use of tech is going to be crucial to long-term success.


9 A sharper focus on health

Consumers’ interest in their wellbeing has been growing for many years now, and COVID-19 has intensified awareness of health issues. CGA’s BrandTrack surveys show that 72% of adults now proactively try to lead healthy lifestyles—an increase of 10 percentage points in little more than a year. Government action—including obesity-related measures like menu labelling—could give operators more reasons to help guests make healthy choices.


10 Sustainability issues here to stay

Climate change and high profile environmental campaigners are leading more and more consumers to engage with sustainability. That means they will be closely watching operators’ actions on issues like food and drink sourcing and packaging, and expecting them to make meaningful changes—not just now but in the long run.

This was an excerpt of trends taken from the full deck.

CGA’s research reveals many more big eating and drinking out trends to watch in 2021 – download the full report with further trends here. To learn more about CGA’s sources and expert insights, contact chris.jeffrey@cgastrategy.com

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