• Viewpoint

Takeaways and restaurants are keeping high streets thriving

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Written by Daniel Jones
Jan 13, 2023
clock icon5 min read

The number of food businesses in local communities is growing ahead of the big cities, and customers continue to order takeaway online.

The decline of the high street has been a popular talking point in many communities in recent times. But new research from the BBC shows that, while banks are closing, takeaway business is booming.

Between 2020 and 2022, there was a 22% increase in the number of chip shops in West Lothian, well ahead of the 6% Scottish average. It's a similar picture in East Lothian with 25% more chip shops, and a 10% increase in food and drink businesses overall. The highest increase in the UK is in East Dunbartonshire, where there are nearly 16% more restaurants, bars and takeaways than there were in 2020.

High street photograph
Do you have a favourite local chippy?
Between 2020 and 2022, there was a 22% increase in the number of chip shops in West Lothian.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on hospitality. Restaurants, bars and cafes closed, and even when they reopened, people were more cautious about being in busy public places. We saw a considerable rise in customers using Scoffable for the convenience of being able to order takeaway food for delivery online. It meant they could enjoy a treat, but it was brought to their door safely, and it enabled them to support local businesses when everyone knew it was tough.

Interestingly, the BBC research shows that high streets in local communities are performing better than city centres. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow city centres are seeing lower growth in food and drink businesses than the Scottish average.

There's lots of factors that might be affecting this, but one of the biggest is probably the number of people who have continued to work from home after lockdown. There's fewer people commuting into the big cities, and so there are fewer meals with friends after work, fewer colleagues going for a drink before the train home and correspondingly fewer businesses catering for them. It was great to see interest in Christmas nights out picking up again towards the end of 2022, but the number of people choosing a takeaway isn't going down following the pandemic, which is great for small food businesses.

We have supported takeaways across Scotland since 2010, so we have a perspective long before pandemic restrictions. While the media might report the findings of this research as worrying for the high street, it perhaps just signals a different type of high street for smaller communities in particular. Big brands may be moving far more business online at the expense of brick and mortar stores, but local hospitality businesses have the best of both worlds if they partner with a company such as Scoffable. They can continue to be a vibrant and loved part of the local community, but enable online orders which help to boost their sales.

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