The change in the licensing laws was meant to drive 24 hour European-style café culture...are we now finally seeing a shift with an increase in late night visits?
Growth in the foodservice market is being driven by an 83 per cent growth in the number of drinkers and diners venturing out between midnight and 7am, data has revealed this week.
London has led the charge with night-time foodservice visits up 38 per cent in the last two years with an overall figure of 257 million late night trips in year ending May 2018, according to data firm, NPD Group.
Despite being a low figure against the total 11.3 billion overall out-of-home foodservice visits, it is one of the biggest new areas of revenue growth. NPD now anticipates continued growth to more than 300 million trips by 2020 and an overall value to the UK economy of £1.5bn.
The overall industry grew by 43 million additional trips with 83 per cent of this growth coming from the 36 million extra night owl visits.
Unsurprisingly, London is the dominant area for night time traffic with 26 per cent of all national activity and with 67 million annual trips. The capital's overnight foodservice market grew 38 per cent in visits in the two years ending May 2018.
Other large cities across the UK are cashing in too though with Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh building an average 20 per cent visit growth.
But some cities in the centre have seen a decline with Wales, the Midlands and east of England seeing a dip of -6 per cent in late night visits across Cardiff, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Oxford, Cambridge, and Norwich.
Dominic Allport, insights director at The NPD Group, said: "A huge variety of sectors routinely involve night work – including hotels and restaurants, arts and entertainment, media, transport, health and social work, wholesale and retail.
"People in these occupations want to visit foodservice outlets to buy food and beverages that they can consume away from home. Our data indicates the foodservice industry is contributing to London's 24-hour economy. And we know from other foodservice trends that major cities will often follow London."
It's not all late night boozing and snacks either with operators saying coffee has been a crucial sell with 36 per cent growth during this time. An outlet selling coffee, that is open any time between midnight and 7am, is three times more likely to be visited during this overnight and early morning period, than during the rest of the day.
Interestingly, people are also more likely to seek out vouchers and meal deals late at night. During the day, figures are at around 28 per cent of visits involving a promotion or offer – but during the night-time it jumps to 46 per cent.