At LDC, we track occupancy trends of over 27,000 restaurants across GB, so it is fair to say the Great British people love a meal out. We classify around 70 different categories of restaurant, including 237 African restaurants, 6 German and 603 Turkish, which shows how this county has embraced many varied (and equally delicious) cuisine types. Through the richness of our data, we are able to deduce many different things about the restaurant market in the UK, so with the help of the LDC analysts, I’m going to review the best places in Britain to go if you fancy a night off from cooking.
Which towns have the highest and lowest restaurant to population ratio?
Some high street seemingly have an abundance of restaurants to choose from, whereas other locations have just one or two choices. We ran analysis which revealed which locations have the lowest population to restaurant ratio (the least amount of people per restaurant, indicating a possible oversupply) and which have the highest (the highest amount of people per restaurant, indicating a possible undersupply) which brought up some interesting findings. N.B - This data was based on units based on the high street only, so doesn't include transport hubs, shopping centres or retail leisure park units within these locations.
You would be forgiven for automatically presuming that Central London would be the location with the highest number of restaurants to population, but as it is so densely populated, this is actually not the case. LDC data shows that Edinburgh is actually the location with the lowest population to restaurant ratio in GB.
The beautiful city of Edinburgh is a tourist hot spot that attracts millions of tourists, both domestic and overseas each year. Figures for 2015 show the visitor figure at 4.01 million. (Source: Edinburgh by Numbers, The City of Edinburgh Council).
With Edinburgh being such a tourist hot spot, maybe it is unsurprising that it only has 1,771 people per restaurant within the city centre. On top of this, 40% of Edinburgh’s retail and leisure provision is classified as ‘leisure’ (classified by LDC as food and beverage operators, hotels, casinos etc.), compared to a GB average of 25%. Of this number, 12% are restaurants, compared to a GB average of 5% - over double in percentage terms. Of these restaurants, the top five classifications are Restaurant & Bar, Italian, Indian, Chinese and unsurprisingly, Scottish! It also has three African restaurants, three Argentinian restaurants and one Iraqi.
Central London comes in second place with 2,033 people per restaurant, again unsurprising for such a famous tourist hotspot. Other, less famous towns to be in the top 10 for low population to restaurant ratios are Dartmouth, Aberdeen, Brighton and Hove and York. See figure 1 for the full list.
Flipping this on its head, the town or city with the lowest population to restaurant ratio is Belsize Park in London with 4,665,429 people per restaurant. The reason for this is that Belsize Park itself only has 1 restaurant (shout out to The Curry Manjil!), despite being in a very densely populated area in London. This could indicate an undersupply of restaurants in this area, however, anecdotally, Belize Park residents tend to venture to neighbouring districts such as Camden for a meal out, so there may be limited potential for leisure occupiers in that region. Looking to other locations with a high population to restaurant ratio, there are a few in London (again mostly the highly populated areas), a number in the West Midlands (Bilston, Cradley Heath and Sedgley) and a few further North in Yorkshire (Birstal Smithies), Liverpool (Walton Vale), Lancashire (Haslingden and Leyland South) and Manchester (Alterton). Whilst these locations do appear have an undersupply of restaurants, it’s always important to look at the full context of how these locations are used in order to understand the potential opportunities in these areas.
So now we know where to head for the largest possible choice when it comes to your meal out, but what if you know exactly what you fancy? Across GB, the top three cuisine types in terms of numbers are Indian with 4,806, Italian with 3,827 and Chinese restaurants with 2,004 restaurants. But where should you go if you fancy a rustic Italian carbonara, a spicy vindaloo, or a tasty chow mein?
Where are the locations with the most Indian, Italian and Chinese restaurants?
Looking first at Indian, the location with the highest percentage of Indian restaurants is Wilmslow Road in Manchester - with a rather generous 8%. Wilmslow Road is a relatively small location, but looks like a hot spot for eating and drinking with 57% of units classified as leisure, compared to the GB average of 25%. With a whopping seven Indian restaurants making up part of the 90-unit strong retail centre here, we can certainly see that the Indian food is a popular choice for these residents.
Moving back slightly closer to home, figure 4 shows us which locations have the highest percentage of Italian restaurants. Coming in at number one is Hatch End in the borough of Harrow in London with 8% of all retail and leisure units serving up calzone and tiramisu. Again, this is a small retail centre, with only 54 units, yet four of these are Italian restaurants. Other top locations fall within the boundary of Greater London, (Whetstone, Southfields and Battersea) are in Surrey (West Byfleet), Low Fell in Tyne and Wear, Eastgate in Lincoln and Yarm, which is a small town in North Yorkshire.
Finally, we looked at towns with the highest number of Chinese restaurants. Surprisingly, there was a real mixture, showing that Chinese restaurants are as popular down South as they are up North and over to the West. At number one we have Woodford Green near Essex, which is a small retail location which just about sits within Greater London. Whilst Woodford Green is a very small retail location, over 3% of their entire retail stock is Chinese restaurants, which is much higher than the GB average of 0.35%, which brings it to the top of our list.
The main thing that strikes us about this data is the huge geographical reach of these restaurants. Unsurprisingly, the tourist hotspots are those which, on the face of things, have a vast oversupply of restaurants. However, due to the vast number of visitors this country attracts each year, these locations can support much higher numbers of restaurants than the more residential areas. This data just scratches the surface of the insight that LDC data can provide on the restaurant market. With a few national chains starting to struggle, we may be reaching a saturation point for restaurants across GB. It’ll become increasingly key for occupiers in this space to ensure that portfolios are continually optimised, data is driving decision making and most importantly of all, as everyone is a critic, customers continue to be delighted.