Catering outlets including restaurants are the only category of chain operator to have seen unbroken growth in UK branch numbers over the last seventeen years according to CBRE research.
CBRE analysed data supplied by Retail Locations and found that the number of restaurants and food outlets is now 258 per cent higher than in 1998 - an 8 per cent annual average growth rate - with a total of 17,450 chain branches in operation across the country.
This growth far outweighs that of other leisure outlets such as bingo halls, cinemas and gyms which have grown by 90 per cent since 1998, equivalent to a 4 per cent annual average growth rate. And it is far above the increase in number of other retailers and shops which are now 50 per cent higher than in 1998 – a 3 per cent annual average growth rate.
In contrast, the number of outlets in the services sector (estate agents, banks, building societies, etc) has fallen 36 per cent since 1998 – a 3 per cent annual average fall - as operators have moved their business activities online.
Seb Howard, head of central London leisure at CBRE said: “This study shows that the recession in tandem with the growth of online retailing hit parts of the UK high street hard, but the restaurant sector proved extremely resilient. In recent years, there has been extraordinary diversification in the restaurant sector driven by the demand for new types of cuisine and the changing eating patterns fuelled by the rise of street food vendors. These trends have injected vibrancy into the market and seen restaurateurs capitalise on the increased availability of premises and floor-space left by other shop operators closing their doors. This is why the sector is so important to the health of the UK high street, encouraging consumers back and increasing the time they spend close to other local retailers.”