The number of out-of-home eating occasions fell by 5% year-on-year in the 12 weeks ending 26 December 2022, new data reveals.

The latest data from wholesale experts TWC in partnership with food-to-go and out-of-home tracking programme MealTrak shows food-to-go value sales declined by -2% on a 12-week ending basis versus 2021, which they say is “surprising” given the current high inflation.

The data shows multiples (+18%) and the discounters (+19%), with their more affordable food-to-go offer, remain “the clear winners”. Forecourts are also performing well (+21%), although convenience stores are in decline (-16%).

Tom Fender, Development Director at TWC, said: “From our data on consumers’ needs and missions, we know that for some time ‘something inexpensive’ has been a key growth driver, and this is also reflected in the outlets which are performing most strongly: the multiple grocers and the discounters. In these outlets, it’s possible to buy a food-to-go meal deal for under £4, in many cases less than this time last year, as retailers including Tesco and Co-op have introduced reduced prices for loyalty card holders.

“With the cost of doing business sharply increasing, we must consider how sustainable these promotions are, and certainly it makes it hard for independent outlets to compete on price alone. With consumers also prioritising quick and easy solutions and ‘something sweet’, these could be other levers to pull.”

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