The traditional Great British BBQ has experienced a true revival, as party planners opt for the comfort of their own back gardens over expensive venues and restaurant reservations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, socializing took on a new form, and while many temporary adaptations faded away, one trend has continued to grow: the BBQ garden party. What initially began as a necessity for social distancing has now evolved into one of the most prominent party trends in the UK, according to research from party planning platform Poptop.
The BBQ Renaissance
The great British BBQ has always been a summer staple, but recent data reveals a surge in the popularity of professional BBQ catering. Poptop, a leading party planning platform, analyzed its booking statistics to assess the current state and trends of the private party industry. One of the most remarkable findings is the substantial and sustained increase in BBQ caterers. Compared to 2019, BBQ chefs are now being booked three times more frequently, making it one of the most sought-after party categories in 2023. As social distancing measures fade into the past, why do BBQ garden parties continue to thrive?
The “Cost of Living” Effect
One factor behind this trend could be the ongoing financial constraints faced by families. In the face of inflation, dining reservation platform OpenTable reported a 10% decline in restaurant bookings over the past year. Restaurants are not the only ones experiencing lower demand. The prices for hiring private party venues have been increasing due to rising utility and operating costs. As a result, party planners are seeking alternatives that provide memorable experiences without breaking the bank. Hosting a professionally staffed BBQ in one’s own outdoor space allows for significant savings on venue, bar, and catering expenses, without compromising on the sense of ceremony and occasion associated with special events like birthdays or anniversaries.
Societal and Cultural Shifts
The past few years have witnessed significant societal and cultural shifts that have left an indelible mark on our shared experiences. The time spent with family in our own homes became cherished during lockdowns, and many people continued to prioritize this tradition even after restrictions were lifted. Furthermore, the summers of 2020 and 2021 saw people investing in their gardens and outdoor spaces, making them more inviting and enjoyable. It is no surprise, then, that individuals now desire to spend quality time with their loved ones in these improved spaces.
Impact on the Market
Food professionals have taken note of these changing patterns in party planning. The growing popularity of BBQ garden parties has led to a surge in new party services entering the market. Poptop’s own service catalogue reflects this trend, with BBQ catered events on the rise and caterers diversifying their offerings to stand out from the competition. The result is an incredible array of party services, ranging from Brazilian churrasco BBQ to American-style rib shacks, Keralan cuisine cooked on open fires, Hawaiian luau-inspired catering, and much more. The choices are nearly endless.
The boom extends beyond catering options. Party tents, mobile bars, and children’s entertainment have all experienced a significant increase in popularity as BBQ-party fever grips the UK private party scene. This trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“While COVID restrictions significantly disrupted parties, they also sparked numerous novel party ideas. People realized that they could have higher-quality food and entertainment in their backyards or gardens, as opposed to hiring function rooms. This led to significant growth in outdoor activities, including party tents, outdoor mobile bars, and, of course, BBQs, which have become essential for summer parties.” – Eugene Shestopal, CEO of 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 create new recipes, sauces, and entertainment ideas, ensuring that each party is unique and special.” – Simon James, founder of The Rib Rack BBQ Company.