However, there is an obesity problem in the UK, and the rising number of fast food restaurants and takeaways hardly help tackle this. That’s why we wanted to know which UK cities have the most fast food restaurants.
We’ve looked at some of the most popular fast food chains in the UK to find out where their stores are located.
Newcastle Upon Tyne
The fast food capital of the United Kingdom is Newcastle, with 27.5 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people. There are a total of 53 fast food restaurants in Newcastle, 19 of which are Subways which is the most common for the Geordies.
Fast food restaurants per 100,000 people
In second place is Manchester, with 27.3 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people. Manchester has twice as many fast food restaurants as Newcastle, with 108, however, Manchester is twice as populous. Once again, it’s Subway which is the most popular, with 41 stores, followed by McDonald's with 29.
Fast food restaurants per 100,000 people
Completing our top three is Northern Ireland’s Belfast, with 24.7 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people. Once again, there are more Subway restaurants than any other fast food chain in Belfast, followed by Burger King this time, with 18 restaurants.
McDonald’s has been crowned the UK’s most popular fast food restaurant, beating the likes of KFC and Subway
After finding out the UK cities with the most fast food restaurants, we wanted to know which fast food restaurants were the most popular. We’ve looked at search data to find out which fast food chains people are craving the most.
Most popular in every city
McDonald’s takes the top spot, with every UK city searching for the famous golden arches the most. In the UK, there are more than 3.3 million searches a month for the franchise, three times more than second place.
Second most popular in every city
Unanimously in second place is KFC, which is the second most popular in every one of our cities. There are one million searches a month for KFC in the UK which is almost double the monthly searches of third place. Despite being so popular, KFC has the second-fewest stores compared to the five chains we looked into. Only Five Guys had fewer stores than KFC.
Third most popular in 30 out of 36 cities
Subway was the third most searched fast food restaurant in 30 of our 36 cities. For the remaining six cities in our list, it was Burger King which took third place. Interestingly, Burger King and Subway’s average monthly searches are the same, at 550,000. However, among the UK’s biggest cities, it was the sandwiches that came out on top.
More than 11,000 fast food restaurants have opened in the last 10 years, an increase of over 30% in the UK.
Fast food or takeaways can often be the solution if you don’t have much time. And with the introduction of companies such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, it has never been easier to get your meals delivered.
10-year increase since 2013
Since 2013, the number of fast food restaurants has increased from just over 37,000 to almost 49,000. This is an increase of more than 11,000, or just over 31%. Deliveroo and Uber Eats were founded in 2013 and 2014 respectively, however, it wasn’t until 2016 that the number of fast food restaurants significantly increased. Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 4.8% increase which saw the number of fast food restaurants and takeaways exceed 40,000.
5-year increase since 2018
In the last five years, the number of fast food restaurants has increased by exactly 17%. There were 41,700 in 2018, and in 2023 there are almost 49,000. This growth of over 7,000 restaurants is even more impressive considering there was a decrease of 1.7% in 2021 due to the pandemic. However, just a year after lockdown, there was an increase of 5.9%, which was enough to exceed the total number of restaurants in 2020.
We used World Population Review to find out the most populous cities in the UK.
We then removed any cities that did not come up when using the store locators from our seeding list.
Finally, we used Statista to find the number of fast food restaurants and takeaways in the UK from 2013.