The UK has seen a 34% increase in fast food outlets between 2010 and 2018.

In fact, the takeaway industry accounted for £9.9 billion of UK spending, and by 2017 there was over 36,855 dedicated takeaways across the UK.

In light of the continuous growth of the UK takeaway economy, Fresh Student Living has looked into how this has affected the nation’s attitudes towards fast food, spending and Brits spending habits.

Despite tighter budgets, and usually less income, students spend four times on average than average Brits a month.

Student City Cardiff named takeaway food capital of the UK

With 73% of the restaurants in Wales selling fast food, Cardiff has been named junk food capital of the UK. People living in the capital spend on average £86.80 a month (£1,041 a year) on takeaway, more than any other city in the UK.

This figure is more notable when considering the city is less expensive than others in the UK. The university city Oxford has been named as the healthiest city, with residents spending an average of £921 a year on gym memberships, however, they also spend £1,270 a year on eating at restaurants, pubs and cafes.

The cities that are supplying the most fast food per 100,000 people:

  1. Cardiff (30 fast food outlets)
  2. Newcastle (27 fast food outlets)
  3. Birmingham (26 fast food outlets)

By contrast, the cities with the least amount of fast food restaurants per 100,000 people:

  • Liverpool (14 fast food outlets)
  • Swansea (13 fast food outlets)
  • London (9 fast food outlets)
  • Manchester (7 fast food outlets)
  • Sheffield (6 fast food outlets – 80% less fast food restaurants than the fast food capital of the UK)

The price of impulse buying

Figures reveal, smartphone-based delivery companies have caused a 73% surge in the money spent on home delivery of takeaways in 10 years.

Speaking for Fresh Student Living, Matthew Cole, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at BCU, states:

“Developments in technology, infrastructure and the improvements in living standards have helped ensure that we now have access to a wide range of different cuisines. [Whilst] the increasing availability of takeaway food outlets, and the growth of online/app-based delivery services, have made it increasingly more convenient for people to access take-away food options.”

Delivery services such as Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat have a combined total of over 600,000 daily users, making it easier for burgers, a nation favourite as revealed by Deliveroo, to be within tapping distance, but many charge delivery fees which adds up over time.

A recent survey discloses chocolate bars/sweets, takeaways/fast food, fizzy drinks/coffee or similar and lunch/dinner made the top five things that Brits buy on impulse. And research shows that impulsively buying food alone can rack up a cost of over £17,000 in a lifetime.

According to the National Student Money Survey, food is the second biggest expenditure for students, after rent with students paying £27 a week on food, meals out and takeaways. 37% of millennials consider dining out to be their favourite way to spend their evening.

Average Spend on Takeaways Per Year

Brits love takeout food, as we can see by the number of takeaway outlets popping up throughout the country. Here are the most popular takeaway meals in the UK, as well as the average amount spent per person each year.

  • Mexican - £11.90
  • Turkish - £10.79
  • Thai - £10.62
  • Indian - £10.30
  • Italian - £10.26
  • Chinese - £9.86

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