The casual dining market is set to see negative growth of 0.1% in 2019, the latest MCA data has shown.

The growth analysis of the branded casual dining market shows 2019 is likely to be a slight improvement, which suffered a 0.3% drop in outlets. However, it pales in comparison to 2017 with 2.2% growth and 2016, which recorded 5.2%.

The analysis covers all establishments selling food in casual environment via table or counter service, taking in pub restaurants and fast food but excluding the likes of coffee shops.

The report points out that growth is being driven by fast food, with brands in both in traditional and contemporary fast food set to see segment growth in 2019. Despite major challenges to the eating out market, six out of the Top 10 largest casual dining brands are still expected to add sites to estates in 2019.

In the branded restaurant sector, a 1.3% fall in outlets represents some stabilisation after the 2.7% decline in 2018. The report stresses that while there have been some high-profile casualties, there are operators successfully navigating the challenges, including Franco Manca and Rosa’s Thai Café, among others.

The full analysis maps the progress of the sector from 2016 to 2019, including a focus on growth in the smaller, medium and larger brand categories.