What dinner plans do you have for the week ahead? Our changing habits mean there’s a high probability that your plans will include dining out — whether that’s grabbing a bite to eat on the move or enjoying a restaurant visit with friends.

2016 figures show that 36% of Brits enjoy a meal out or takeaway food once or twice weekly. A further 21% would treat themselves once a fortnight, while 19% ate out every month.

Before the millennium, eating out at a restaurant or enjoying a takeaway was rare, reserved only for special events. Due to the falling cost of eating out, improving salaries and the convenience offered by take-out food, we have incorporated them more casually into our lifestyles — but at what cost?

The Scale of Britain’s Love of Dining out

VoucherCodes.co.uk data shows that £288,000 is spent over the course of a lifetime on restaurant meals. On average, this works out at £44 per week on dining out alone. However, for 18-29 year-olds, this figure doubles to a weekly spend of £88!

So where are Brits spending this cash? The survey found that the pub is our preferred dining destination. Historically, pubs were exclusively for drinking, with the exception of inns that served meals to their guests.

Following the smoking ban, pubs endeavoured to attract a new customer base through providing food instead of being primarily a drinking establishment. Their tactic seems to have worked!

Chinese restaurants followed in second place, while third place went to Indian food outlets.

Regardless of cuisine, our love affair with dining out is having huge benefits for UK restaurants. Between 2012 and 2016, a report by the Local Data Company showed that 743 new restaurants opened on average each year. However, in 2017, this figure reached a new peak, with 1,333 new restaurants opening.

MCA’s UK Market Restaurant report claims that the UK’s restaurant market would reach £20 billion in 2017, clearly illustrating the scale of the impact it’s having on our economy.

While restaurants are booming, are our own finances suffering? What impact is our expenditure on food having on our ability to save for retirement. Stocks and shares ISA provider True Potential Investor shed some light on the issue in their Tackling The Savings Gap Consumer Savings and Debt Data Q3 2017 report.

The report found that on average, Brits spend £4.70 daily on purchases that are later regretted. Over the course of a month, this totals £143. So what are we spending it on?

A quarter of survey respondents cited food purchases as their most regretted buys. Perhaps this ties in to how dining out has become the norm — are we visiting restaurants when we’re not hungry simply because we have become accustomed to eating out rather than at home?

While it seems like a small amount, £4.70 per day could go a lot further if it was invested rather than spent on food. According to True Potential Investor’s research, investing £4.70 per day into a pension between 30 and 65 years old could return a retirement fund of £320,000. This amount could fund 13 years of retirement, based on needing £23,000 annually to live comfortably.

Once basic rate pension tax relief is added, this sum could grow to £399,000! With the huge opportunity offered by investments, is it worth sacrificing a few restaurant trips to bolster our pension pots?

Sources

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2893113/brits-spend-more-than-288000-eating-out-at-restaurants-in-their-lifetimes-because-were-too-lazy-to-cook/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/419297/eating-out-frequency-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/

https://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Article/2017/09/28/UK-restaurant-openings-reach-new-peak

https://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Article/2017/09/22/Restaurant-growth-is-up-but-turbulent-times-lie-ahead