Solo dining was once the domain of business travellers and those on the go, but a new report has revealed Australians are fast shedding the stigma of eating alone.

A CREST trends report released by research company The NPD Group found solo dining now accounts for 40 per cent of traffic share within the foodservice sector.

On-premises operations currently account for 41 per cent traffic share of the sector with a 70 per cent contribution to growth (CTG). New South Wales and Victoria comprise the largest solo dining markets at 35 per cent and 31 per cent respectively. In addition, they are the top two growth states, sitting at 42 per cent CTG each over a three-year period.

The research also revealed some interesting facts about the demographic of solo diners. “Middle-aged working consumers are the core solo diners in Australia, with a stronger association for male solo dining (61 per cent) due to the workforce make up,” says Gimantha Jayasinghe, deputy managing director, APAC, at The NPD Group. “36 per cent of solo diners are white collar, with 57 per cent between the ages of 25 to 49.”

A staggering 77 per cent of solo dining experiences occur on weekdays, with breakfast the most popular meal (60 per cent) for Australians to eat alone. A ‘morning snack’ came in second place at 50 per cent. Dinner was the least popular mealtime, with 21 per cent of Australians eating alone in the evening. “Years ago, eating alone was pretty uncommon,” says Jayasinghe. “If you were a solo diner, you were looked at strangely or people assumed you were a food critic.”

The statistics indicate the market is changing, and operators should consider how they can cater to solo diners from seating arrangements and providing reading materials to offering half portions.

Photography: Chetan Hireholi (via Unsplash)

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