Is the global warming affect on the UK weather going to influence consumer trends in visiting the hospitality industry?

Climate change is a global issue with global impacts, and the MET office expect the UK to see warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, and more frequent and intense weather extremes. What, if any affect, will this have on the hospitality industry in the coming years? Are there some simple ways we can plan and be prepared for this climate change?

Back in 2021, it was reported that 38% of sites in Britain had a garden, terrace, or car park – will it become even more important for operators to have these outdoor spaces with climate change? Will operators without these outdoor areas struggle more than they ever have before? Or will they do better, as they can offer respite from the intense summer sun?

According to the Met Office, climate change will also make hot spells more frequent and severe and by 2070, the chance of exceeding 30 °C for two or more days increases by a lot. More specifically, over the southern UK it becomes sixteen times more frequent than it is today. Shockingly, they also suspect that by 2070, the chances of exceeding 40° C are like the chances of exceeding 32°C, thirty years ago. These hot spells are a risk to the public, so will it become more important for the hospitality industry to make a day spent at the pub safe and risk free in high temperatures? Unsurprisingly, research has found that the summer months are the more popular time for the hospitality industry, with more than half saying this is when they visit pubs most often. Is there a chance the hospitality industry will see even busier summer months in the coming years, or will the weather get too extreme that consumers choose to stay at home to avoid the heat? If climate change is to bring the UK more predictable summers, will it give an opportunity for operators to organise outdoor events or live bands that can be marketed to increase visiting numbers and sales?

What will be interesting to see is whether the hotter summer temperatures affect the publics’ food preferences. Will we see a need for lighter food options like tapas and small plates, as appetites can be suppressed in the heat? A recent study found that 1 in 3 people say emerging world cuisines have replaced the more established ones. Will emerging cuisines, together with the hotter summers, see less of a demand for traditional British pub staples like pies and fish and chips?

The warmer temperatures during the winter months are not necessarily going to be a pitfall, but the even wetter winters could have some implications for the industry. Will operators have to work harder during the wetter winter months, to encourage consumers into their sites? The Met Office looking into the future is estimating that the frequency of colder events will decrease; will this have a positive impact on the industry? Will the fire-lit setting be as attractive if our winters become warmer? According to the Met Office we will see less frost and snow through the winter. Could this see an end to days of sales lost when consumers are snowed in or simply too hesitant to drive on icy/snowy roads?

Naturally, there are ranges of possible change; but we are already starting to see some change happening. The Met Office can provide information on the probability, but they cannot guarantee it. The projections mentioned in this article from the Met Office are based off the idea that greenhouse gas emissions keep accelerating; it is not inevitable, but plausible if we do not curb our emissions. These are all questions and scenarios we must bear in mind as we move forward, as we do not have the answers now. The hospitality industry will do well to continue watching and assessing consumer trends as we start to see the affect the global temperature rise has on our UK climate.

Written by Izzy Mchattie, EP Business in Hospitality