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There has a been definite shift in attitudes in recent days and weeks. After the misery of lockdown through the winter months, people are starting to look forwards again.

I had a short walk through my local town this week and saw lots of activity behind the scenes as shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants prepare to reopen in line with the roadmap. People in my network are certainly ready to eat out again. They have confidence in the measures put in place and they’re ready to enjoy good drinks, good food and a good atmosphere. I, for one, am crossing my fingers that the data allows us to progress with roadmap as planned.

But it’s not all been doom and gloom through the two (or do we call it three?) lockdowns over the last 12 months. One category to survive – and in some cases thrive – has been street food, which has built on years of continued growth to fill some of the void left when restaurants and pubs have been forced to close their doors to sit-in customers.

We might not have been able to visit bustling street food markets like we did in the summer of 2019, but it’s been fantastic to see the way in which individual carts, vans and cooking stations have continued trading within the restrictions.

Ticking boxes in the COVID-era

In some ways, it was inevitable. Street food has been the subject of a revolution in recent years, with research putting the value of UK street food markets alone at £1.2billion, and there are distinct advantages for mobile caterers in the current climate. Aside from the freedom of where to trade, street food is quick, easy-to-prepare and easy-to-serve – perfect for takeaway service.  

Crucially, this is also a sector driven by an army of entrepreneurial chefs. I’ve seen traders who would previously have operated at street food markets or larger dining events, show commercial nous by popping up independently – whether in a pub car park or at the local tennis club. Others linked exclusively with microbreweries and pubs in the periods when those venues were allowed to open and there was even a series of drive-thru street food events across the UK towards the end of last year.

These savvy traders are tapping social media marketing, with intelligent remarketing techniques to catch repeat customers next time they’re back in the same spot. And clearly it’s working, because the demand continues.

Let’s hope the roadmap continues and we can see more success from these innovative street food traders in 2021, along with bricks and mortar operators too of course.

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