The Soaring Popularity of BBQ Garden Parties Amidst COVID and Rising Living Costs

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 02:54 pm

The traditional British BBQ has experienced a remarkable resurgence, with an increasing number of party planners opting for the comfort of their own back gardens instead of expensive restaurant reservations or venues.

During the COVID-19 summers in Britain, various innovative socializing compromises emerged. While many of these trends faded as life returned to normal, the rise of BBQ garden parties has demonstrated unexpected staying power. What initially began as a social-distancing necessity, with garden parties featuring hired BBQ chefs, has now evolved into one of the UK’s most significant party trends, according to research from Poptop, a leading party planning platform.

A New Era for the Great British BBQ

The great British BBQ has long been a summer staple, but recent data reveals a sudden surge in the popularity of professional BBQ catering. Poptop, utilizing its extensive booking statistics, has assessed the current state and trends of the private party industry. One of the most surprising findings is the substantial and sustained increase in BBQ caterers. Once considered a niche option for private catering, BBQ chefs are now receiving bookings three times more frequently than in 2019, making it one of the most sought-after party categories in 2023. As social distancing becomes a distant memory, what accounts for the enduring appeal of BBQ garden parties?

The Impact of the “Cost of Living”

One possible reason is the ongoing financial pressure faced by families. Following inflation rises, OpenTable, an online restaurant reservation platform, reports a 10% drop in restaurant bookings over the past year. However, restaurants aren’t the only venues experiencing a decline in reservations. Private party venue hire prices continue to rise due to increases in utilities and running costs. Consequently, party planners are seeking cost-effective ways to create memorable experiences for their loved ones. Hosting a professionally staffed BBQ in one’s own outdoor space can result in substantial savings on venue, bar, and catering expenses, without compromising the sense of ceremony and occasion associated with special events like birthdays or anniversaries.

Societal and Cultural Shifts

Another contributing factor is the enduring impact of societal and cultural changes experienced in recent years. Time spent with family in the comfort of our own homes became cherished during lockdowns, and many individuals wished to continue this tradition long after restrictions eased. Additionally, the summers of 2020 and 2021 saw significant improvements made to gardens and outdoor spaces, making it natural for people to desire more quality time with friends and family in these areas.

Market Response

Food professionals are not oblivious to these evolving trends in party planning. The growing popularity of back garden BBQ parties has led to a surge of new party services entering the market. Poptop’s service catalogue reflects these changes, with BBQ catered events driving caterers to diversify their offerings and stand out from the competition. As a result, there is now an incredible array of show-stopping party services available, including Brazilian churrasco BBQ, American-style rib shacks, Keralan cuisine cooked on open fires, Hawaiian luau-inspired catering, and much more. The options are virtually endless.

The boom extends beyond catering options. Party tents, mobile bars, and children’s entertainment have all witnessed a significant increase in popularity as the BBQ-party trend sweeps through the UK private party scene. This trend shows no signs of slowing down.

“Although COVID restrictions significantly disrupted parties, they simultaneously sparked many innovative ideas. People realized they could enjoy higher-quality food and entertainment in their own backyards or gardens instead of hiring function rooms. This led to substantial growth in outdoor activities such as party tents, outdoor mobile bars, and, of course, BBQs, an absolute essential for summer parties now.” – Eugene Shestopal, CEO, Poptop.

“We witnessed an unprecedented demand for BBQ last year, and despite the cost of living crisis, we continue to see even greater demand this summer. This inspires me to develop new recipes, sauces, and entertainment ideas, ensuring that each party is unique and special.” – Simon James, founder of The Rib Rack BBQ Company.

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