Outdoor Dining Trends and Statistics 2024

It’s Summer time which can only mean one thing: beer gardens and outdoor dining venues are about to become extremely popular.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, most hospitality businesses had no choice but to adapt their business model to serve outdoor guests. However, even long after lockdown, hot British days bring thousands of Brits to the city streets and beer gardens. We’re interested in why people flock to outdoor dining spots, how businesses adapt to this model and whether or not there’s still demand for al fresco dining in the future.

As canopy and shelter designers and installers, we’ve collaborated with many hospitality businesses to create aesthetically pleasing, functional, and safe outdoor spaces for serving customers their favourite dishes and pints. This area of research is, therefore, very interesting to us.

If you’re a restaurant owner, hospitality consultant or anyone else with a keen interest in dining trends, keep reading!

Is there a demand for outdoor dining options in the UK?

survey conducted in 2022 concluded that even post-pandemic, 75% of respondents said they would like to see outdoor dining options expand. The outdoor hospitality sector rose to popularity majorly at a time when people had no choice but to eat and socialise outdoors. Whilst original perspectives worried about this culture shift during the pandemic, it goes without saying from the data above that this way of eating has certainly opened up new opportunities – the UK public doesn’t want to see it slow down.

For restaurant owners, expanding your seating capacity and offering a beer garden or exclusive outdoor section can really improve footfall. It’s undoubtedly a great way to capture new customers when the sun comes out, especially if you’re one of the only outdoor venues in your area.

  • 52% of Brits prefer to eat outdoors on a hot Summer’s day. (London Daily)
  • When eating outdoors, 42% of survey respondents claimed that they look for venues with waterfront views. (London Daily)
  • Most brits (82%) say they choose to dine outdoors in Summer to make the most of the rare sunshine. (London Daily)
  • The most popular dish amongst outdoor diners is pizza. (London Daily)
  • Manchester has been crowned the second biggest and most favourable city to London for outdoor dining spots. (Powerpos)
  • 69% of Brits prefer to have an outdoor dining option when they’re hunting for somewhere to eat. (Alltohartley)
  • According to Gousto, over half of Brits will eat outdoors no matter the weather. (Gousto)
  • During the Pandemic, more than 17,000 extra seats were licenced and introduced across the streets of Britain to help hospitality businesses cater to more customers. (Morning Advertiser)
  • Northern cities such as Newcastle, Bradford and Liverpool were the most popular hotspots to increase outdoor seating capacity during the pandemic. (Morning Advertiser)
  • 79% of UK diners said they would increase their dwell time if they had the option to sit outside more restaurants. (Light Speeding)

How to plan your outdoor dining space

If these statistics have inspired you to devise a plan for expanding your outdoor dining area, there are numerous factors to consider to ensure its success. The British weather is notoriously unpredictable, so it’s essential to create a practical yet inspiring space that protects customers and tables from harsh conditions.

1. Firstly, you need to apply for licensing from the council. There are a myriad of regulations and requirements that restaurants and bars must comply with for the safety of customers and staff. Once you have completed the right paperwork, planned with space, accessibility and safety elements in mind, you’re ready to operate outdoors. It’s important to refer to official guidance on outdoor seating before you submit an application.

2. Invest in a commercial awning or canopy to ensure you can cater to outdoor diners even when the rain hits. A high quality canopy will also enhance the overall appearance of your space, helping to create an inviting atmosphere for your customers.

3. Think of ways you can make cooler evenings more comfortable by making outdoor heaters and blankets available for customers. This way, you can guarantee revenue and customer satisfaction despite lower temperatures.

4. Think about creating a specific menu for outdoor customers. This can help you reduce food waste and serve weather-appropriate foods such as salads and pizzas. It’s worth thinking about your menu and the seasonal foods that your customers are more likely to order when sitting outside.

Cater to outdoor diners with A&S Landscape

As a canopy manufacturer, we know how to create bespoke shelters for weather protection, aesthetics and safety. Canopies for hospitality businesses are no exception. If you’re looking to open a new venue or utilise your existing space to create an outdoor space, speak to our team. We’re happy to chat you through your options and talk about a personalised canopy made just for you and your customers.