Big in the US, Big in the UK
Guest Blogger: Russell Margerrison, Chief Financial Officer, The Deltic Group
Are you old enough to remember when fast food in the UK was Fish and Chips, when pubs served beer and a packet of crisps if you were lucky and coffee was Instant or Camp?
How things have changed and I am not talking about technological advances over the past 40 years, but the continued Americanization of UK society and culture.
Let’s just take a moment to think through some of the changes we have seen in the past 40 years or so â€“ fast food restaurants for example. McDonalds certainly springs to mind, but what about KFC, Burger King and Pizza Hut or Dunkin Donuts.
More recently, the likes of Eds Easy Dinner, Five Guys and Tinseltown to name but three have all brought a part of the US of A dining experience to the UK.
Then there is the inexorable rise of coffee and drinks on the go â€“ it seems almost that you are not dressed in London now unless you have a takeaway beverage in your hand. Now that’s not to say that all this is bad news; one of the great things that we have seen over the years is the improvement in service levels in bars and restaurants. Not only is the food of a higher quality but the service standards, and I am talking generally here, are much better. From meeting and greeting to taking your order, checking that all is fine with your meal, and that you are ok for drinks, through to paying your ‘check’ on departure, the overall service experience is much improved.
But it’s not just from the service perspective that all things American have invaded our shores. What about flash sales and Black Friday â€“ yes that’s the day after Thanksgiving (the 4th Thursday in November for those of you not yet fully Americanized). It’s coming in a few weeks, so watch out for all those sales adverts that are likely to invade your inbox. Oh yes and that’s closely followed by the ‘holidays’ otherwise known in the UK as Christmas, although in fairness the Americans do not have the long break that we now do!
Drinks trends, particularly alcoholic ones are also revealing. Obviously we have the invasion of Budweiser, plus Miller and Coors but what about Bourbon – JD and Coke anyone? In the UK, we have a rich history of brewing, we exported beers to the US for years but now have the emergence of craft beers and stubbies all following a trend from America. Yet despite that, overall beer consumption in the US has fallen as wine and spirits have grown, so perhaps the real trend to watch out for is craft distilleries as Spirits improve via premiumization and retro cocktails. There has also been the trend for increased flavour variants with vodka still leading the way but also notable growth for Rum, Bourbon and Tequila. Whiskey Sours anyone?
So why talk about this now? Because, we’ve just experienced the phenomenon of Halloween! Yes it’s a festival that has been around for years but have you noticed how Americanized this has become? There were houses everywhere with pumpkins and candles, spiders webs and witches, and the chances of there being no kids coming to play trick or treat was virtually none existent.
But for all the pub, bar and club owners its fantastic and has become a massive calendar event. The young have embraced it like there is no tomorrow and Halloween was so popular this year that we had a record night.
Halloween has simply become one of the busiest nights of the year and depending on what day of the week it falls is a real bonus to businesses, so here’s to the continuing Americanization of our nightlife!