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Thursday, September 21, 2023

The Resurgence of BBQ Garden Parties Amidst COVID and Rising Costs of Living

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

During the COVID-19 summers, Britons discovered various smart ways to socialize, and while many of these trends faded away as life returned to normal, the BBQ garden party has emerged as a lasting phenomenon. Initially born out of the necessity for social distancing, garden parties with hired BBQ chefs have evolved into one of the biggest party trends in the UK, according to research conducted by Poptop, a leading party planning platform.

Breathing new life into the Great British BBQ, recent data reveals a surge in the popularity of professional BBQ catering services. Poptop’s extensive booking statistics demonstrate that BBQ caterers are now receiving three times more bookings than in 2019, making it one of the most sought-after party categories in 2023. As social distancing measures fade away, what makes BBQ garden parties so enduring?

One factor contributing to their popularity may be the ongoing financial constraints faced by families. In the wake of rising inflation, OpenTable, a dining expert, reports a 10% decline in restaurant reservations over the past year. Restaurants are not the only ones witnessing decreased bookings; private party venue hire prices continue to rise due to increasing utilities and running costs. Party planners are now seeking cost-effective ways to create memorable experiences for their loved ones. Hosting a professionally staffed BBQ in one’s own outdoor space can significantly reduce expenses associated with venue, bar, and catering hire, without compromising on the sense of ceremony and occasion that comes with special events like birthdays or anniversaries.

Moreover, the past few years have witnessed societal and cultural shifts that have left a lasting impact on our collective experiences. Time spent with family in the comfort of our homes has become sacred—a tradition that many wish to continue long after the end of lockdowns. Additionally, as people spent the summers of 2020 and 2021 enhancing their gardens and outdoor spaces, it is only natural for them to desire more quality time enjoying these spaces with friends and family.

Food professionals have not overlooked these evolving party planning patterns. The growing popularity of back garden BBQ parties has led to a surge in new party services entering the market. Poptop’s service catalogue exemplifies this change, as BBQ catered events have risen in demand, prompting professional caterers to diversify their offerings to stand out from the competition. The result is an incredible array of show-stopping party services, including Brazilian churrasco BBQ, American-style rib shacks, Keralan cuisine cooked on open fires, Hawaiian luau-inspired catering, and much more. The choices seem endless.

This boom extends beyond catering options. Party tents, mobile bars, and children’s entertainment have all experienced a significant increase in popularity as the BBQ-party fever spreads across the UK private party scene. The trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

“Although COVID restrictions significantly disrupted parties, they simultaneously sparked numerous novel party ideas. People realized that they could have higher-quality food and entertainment in their backyards or gardens instead of hiring function rooms. This led to significant growth in outdoor activities, including party tents, outdoor mobile bars, and of course, BBQs, which have become an essential part of summer parties.” – Eugene Shestopal, CEO, Poptop.

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


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