What trends are driving the growth in delivery?

The NPD Group has crunched the numbers to reveal what is increasing the appeal of delivery, while predicting that drones will come into action in the next five years.

25 April 2019
image credit: Getty Images

  • There were 755m delivery visits in the year ending December 2018, an increase of 210m or 39% since December 2015.
  • In contrast, total visit figures for the British out-of-home or eat-out foodservice industry grew just 2% between 2015 and 2018, peaking at 11.35bn visits in 2017 and declining by -0.5% in 2018, a loss of 60m visits.
  • Delivery increased its share of Britain’s foodservice industry from 5% of visits in 2015 to 7% in 2018. This could soon reach 9% based on NPD’s prediction of a 28% increase in foodservice delivery visits by 2021.
  • Delivery spend increased by £1.35bn in 2018 compared to 2015 and NPD says the British foodservice delivery market could be worth £6.3bn by 2021.
  • Breakfast and lunch combined accounted for 20% of delivery visits in 2018, an increase of 74m, almost doubling in size since 2015. Delivery of breakfast was up by 86% and lunch by 99% since 2015.
  • Snacking delivery visits are also growing rapidly, up 67m since 2015.
  • Around 7 in 10 delivery visits are to residential addresses while 1 in 10 are to work locations.
  • It’s not just young consumers that like food and beverages coming to their door; delivery visits grew strongly among the 35+ age group between 2015 and 2018, up 45% (an additional 63m).
  • Although British pubs accounted for less than 4% of the delivery market in 2018, they have increased their delivery visits by 84% since 2015. Branded pub chains in particular are expected to offer more food for delivery in coming years, as this is an effective way of keeping kitchens and kitchen staff busy during quieter trading times, said NPD.
  • Delivery orders made by phone are declining in favour of apps. Phones contributed to 56% of all delivery visits in 2015, but this had shrunk to 45% by 2018. Conversely, app orders are up 182% since 2015 and accounted for 21% of total delivery visits in 2018. Within the 16-24 age group, app delivery visits now account for 30% of total delivery orders.
  • Burgers were included in 6% of delivery visits in 2018 and chicken in 23%.
  • The NPD Group expects drones will be a feature of the delivery channel in Britain within five years, with branded drones offering a new marketing opportunity and increasing customer loyalty. Drones are also likely to be more sustainable than some other forms of transport and could work just as well in rural locations as cities.


“In the past decade, foodservice delivery spend has almost doubled and is especially profitable for restaurants looking to increase business volume,” said Dominic Allport, insights director at The NPD Group. “Over the short-term, commission charged by aggregator platforms could impact operator profitability, but the long-term trend for food delivery is growth. The arrival of virtual restaurants, usually run from ‘dark kitchens’ and offering delivery-only brands, will strengthen the wider movement away from retail-based foodservice.”

He added: “There’s much more innovation to come from the delivery channel. Consumers will love the novelty value of receiving their food order via drones. As soon as British foodservice operators get a viable and authorised drone delivery platform, they’ll offer it to the public for appropriate foods in selected markets.”

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