81% growth in 2024: UK food halls report (February 2024)

April 7, 2024
min read

The UK food hall scene is experiencing a remarkable transformation, propelled by evolving consumer behaviours, diverse culinary offerings, and technological advancements. 

We heart sharing insights that not only highlight these changes but also offer valuable perspectives for both new entrants and existing operators in the food hall industry. 

Our latest report, drawing on data from January 2023 to January 2024, underscores the dynamic growth, consumer preferences, and financial benchmarks shaping the future of dining.

Industry growth: A resilient market

Despite the challenges facing the broader hospitality sector, the UK food hall market has shown impressive resilience and growth. From June 2023 to February 2024, the number of operational food halls increased by 15%, from 76 to 84. 

This expansion is further evidenced by the 18% rise in food halls under development, showcasing the sector's robust potential and appeal to both entrepreneurs and consumers. 

Remarkably, this growth comes in a context where the wider restaurant industry faces significant closures, highlighting the unique appeal and sustainability of the food hall model.

Cuisine and trader trends: Diverse and profitable offerings

Our analysis reveals fascinating insights into the performance of various cuisines within food halls. 

Fried chicken, Greek, and burger cuisines emerge as top performers, significantly exceeding the expected revenue benchmarks. This trend not only reflects consumer preferences for these offerings but also suggests a lucrative opportunity for operators considering their culinary mix. 

In contrast, more traditional British fare, although cherished, shows underperformance, urging a reevaluation of menu diversity to align with changing tastes.

Consumer behaviour: Preferences and patterns

Consumer engagement with food halls exhibits distinct patterns, with the top 25% of operators witnessing higher visits, spend per visit, and repeat customer rates compared to the average. 

This discrepancy underscores the importance of understanding and catering to customer preferences to drive loyalty and profitability. Additionally, sales data reveal that weekends and evenings are peak times, providing operators with critical insights for staffing, menu planning, and promotional activities.

Financial insights: Optimising for success

The financial performance of food hall operators offers a clear view of the strategies that drive success. The top 25% of operators not only achieve higher average order values (AOV) but also demonstrate the potential for significantly increasing revenue through strategic menu pricing and customer engagement tactics. 

Furthermore, the split between food and beverage sales highlights the importance of balancing offerings to meet consumer demand, with food-led operators enjoying a higher AOV.

Leveraging technology for growth

At me&u, we believe that technology plays a pivotal role in enhancing the food hall experience for both operators and consumers. Our platform has facilitated countless transactions, offering a seamless ordering and payment solution that caters to the modern diner's expectations for convenience and efficiency. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing innovative solutions like those provided by me&u will be key to staying competitive and meeting the ever-changing demands of guests.

Looking ahead

The UK food hall market's trajectory is marked by robust growth, diversified culinary offerings, and a deepening integration of technology. For operators, staying attuned to consumer preferences, optimizing menu offerings, and leveraging technology will be crucial strategies for success. As we move forward, me&u remains committed to empowering our partners with the insights and tools needed to thrive in this dynamic landscape. Together, we can continue to redefine dining experiences and set new standards for excellence in the food hall sector.

Download the report here (no forms to fill out!).

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