It’s very difficult to get at proper statistics on the eating out market. So when someone publishes some seemingly authoritative data, it’s very interesting (well, for those of us who follow these things anyway).
A report on the “Informal Eating Out Market”, being publicised today, sounded as if it was indeed very authoritative. A trade website reported the research as saying that “the amount spent on eating out of the home in the UK has fallen for the first time in 40 years as a result of a shift in consumer expectations that will continue after the recession”.
Dramatic stuff. But what was that word “informal” about? Not all eating out of the home is “informal”. So we get a copy of the press material and have a look. That does indeed imply that the world “informal” is redundant. Many statements are made that seem to be talking about the whole eating out market, not just a subset of it.
But the niggle remains. Why say “informal” it the word is totally redundant? In a note, the press release says that “The informal eating out market comprises informal restaurants, fast food and takeaway, coffee shops, sandwich bars, pubs, workplace canteens, leisure venues and travel locations, including forecourt shops”. That doesn’t really help much. So we ring up the outfit that’s puffing its report, and find that "informal” does mean something objective: it means under £15 a head.
For many people in the catering industry and elsewhere, this fact – nowhere mentioned in the summary – makes the report, and the claims based on it, rather pointless.
Ah well, back to the drawing board.