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The Resurgence of the BBQ Garden Party in the Face of COVID and Rising Costs of Living

The traditional British BBQ has experienced a remarkable revival, as party planners opt for the comfort and affordability of hosting gatherings in their own back gardens rather than expensive venues and restaurant reservations.

During the COVID-19 summers, Britons found innovative ways to socialize, and while many of these adaptations were temporary, some have proven to be enduring. The rise of the BBQ garden party is one such trend. Initially born out of the need for social distancing, garden parties featuring hired BBQ chefs have evolved into one of the UK’s most popular party trends, according to research by Poptop, a leading party planning platform.

A New Era for the British BBQ

While the great British BBQ has always been a summer staple, recent data indicates a significant surge in the popularity of professional BBQ catering. Poptop, analyzing its extensive booking statistics, has observed a threefold increase in BBQ caterers compared to 2019, making it one of the most sought-after party categories in 2023. As social distancing measures recede, why do BBQ garden parties continue to thrive?

The Impact of the “Cost of Living”

One possible reason is the ongoing financial pressure faced by families. With rising inflation, OpenTable, a dining reservations platform, has reported a 10% decrease in restaurant bookings over the past year. Restaurants are not the only ones feeling the impact; private party venue hire prices continue to rise due to increasing utility and operational costs. Party planners are now seeking cost-effective ways to create memorable experiences for their loved ones. Hiring a professional BBQ chef for an outdoor event in their own space can result in substantial savings on venue, bar, and catering expenses without compromising on the sense of occasion associated with special events like birthdays and anniversaries.

Societal and Cultural Shifts

The last few years have witnessed significant societal and cultural changes, and spending time with family in the comfort of our homes has become a cherished tradition that many wish to maintain even after lockdowns. Additionally, with people investing in their gardens and outdoor spaces during the summers of 2020 and 2021, it is only natural that they would want to spend more quality time enjoying these areas with friends and family.

Market Impact

Food professionals have taken note of these evolving party planning patterns. The growing popularity of backyard BBQ parties has led to a surge in new party services entering the market. Poptop’s service catalogue reflects this trend, with professional caterers diversifying their offerings to stand out from the competition. The result is an incredible range of party services, including Brazilian churrasco BBQ, American-style rib shacks, Keralan cuisine cooked over open fires, Hawaiian luau-inspired catering, and much more. The options are virtually endless.

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

“Although COVID restrictions significantly disrupted parties, they also sparked numerous innovative ideas. People realized that they can enjoy better quality food and entertainment in their own backyards or gardens, as opposed to renting function rooms. This has led to substantial growth in outdoor activities such as party tents, outdoor mobile bars, and of course, BBQs, which have become an essential element of summer parties.” – Eugene Shestopal, CEO of Poptop.

“We witnessed an unprecedented demand for BBQ last year, and despite the cost of living crises, the demand continues to grow 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.

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