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Great Britain's QSR market rebounds in February as COVID fears subside

Lunch has recovered to 98% pre-pandemic levels

Data from The NPD Group shows that Great Britain’s QSR market continued to perform strongly in February, with QSR sales increasing 3% over January, as fears of the COVID-19 omicron variant subsided, and consumers embraced eating out again. QSR sales are now comfortably ahead of pre-pandemic levels, at £1.92bn in February 2022, compared with £1.87 in February 2020.

The recovery of both on-premise and grab & go visits continued in February 2022, with sales in these up +2% and 5%, respectively, compared to January 2022. However, compared to pre-pandemic levels, on- premise sales are still down -30%, while grab & go sales are down -1%. Delivery and drive-thru remain strong, showing that some QSR occasions have moved from in-restaurant visits to delivery and drive-thru, even as restrictions have been lifted.

Lunch was the key growth driver month-on-month, with increases also in breakfast and dinner sales. Lunch has now recovered to 98% of pre-Covid levels, though the recovery of the lunch daypart has fallen behind dinner. Still, as more consumers return to workplaces and commuting, lunch is making a strong comeback with sales increasing 7% in February compared to January.

Families have been the main engine of growth in QSR during the pandemic. However, in February, the strongest growth came from older adults, as more returned to the workplace. The 50+ age demographic also saw notable growth. This is a welcome development, as older adults are the main demographic that hasn’t yet fully returned to the out-of-home foodservice market.

QSR continues to outperform other segments like pubs and full-service restaurants, even as restrictions have been lifted and on-premise dining has returned. This shows that QSR operators are in a sweet spot of offering value for money, convenience and a multi-channel approach, catering to diverse consumer demands. NPD expects 2022 to be another strong year for QSR operators.

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