Consumers looking to fine dine at home

Posted by Isobel Drake on 17th July 2008

UK retailer Waitrose has seen demand for ‘restaurant-style foods’ soar as rising costs put greater strains on household spending.

Sales of nibbles – from olives and dips to gourmet sharing dishes – are up 53% year on year. And sales of the supermarket’s ‘As Good As Going Out’ range of prepared meals have risen by 42% as some customers shun restaurant meals to stay at home.

Sales of Champagne are up by a healthy 10% compared with 2007, indicating consumers are not willing to compromise on the whole dining experience. Similarly, gastro style desserts are proving very popular with New York cheesecake up 40% and classic British puddings such as treacle sponge and bread and butter pudding up as much as 35%.

“Despite the credit crunch, consumers still want to retain some sparkle in their lives with sophisticated treats that they might have otherwise consumed in their local eatery,” Waitrose Ready Meal Buyer, Zelda Cassie, said. “Entertaining at home is a great way of enjoying the good life and socialising with friends but not at the expense of your bank balance.”

Restaurants have been under increased pressure to maintain their customer base in the wake of worsening economic conditions. The situation has been most noticeable in America and some areas within Europe but, if Australia’s economic conditions decline, greater difficulties are likely to be experienced by restaurateurs already battling against the increased cost of food and finance. The focus on service, ambience and continually producing high quality food which most consumers could not make at home is vital to ensure the experience of a night out remains exciting and worth paying a little bit extra for.