During the COVID lockdowns, multiple images appeared online showing the incredible demand for fast food once the restrictions were lifted. There were reports of mile-long queues at restaurant drive-throughs, and even a customer queuing in a cardboard car in order to get a taste of his favourite fast food meal after so long. This comes as no surprise, with the UK being a nation of fast food lovers and consuming more than 100m takeaways each year.
That got us thinking, where exactly are the fast food hotspots in the UK? And just what lengths would people go to make sure they picked up their favourite Big Mac, Double Whopper or Boneless Banquet meal? A survey conducted by Vanarama has revealed that 32% of the UK public would be prepared drive 10 miles or more to their nearest fast food restaurant. The round trip would cost a Ford Fiesta driver (the UK's most popular car) £2.21 in petrol costs, only a small price to pay some would say. Surpassing that, 6% of the public would even be prepared to undertake a 200-mile voyage get their fast food fix, at a fuel cost of £21.99.
The British public are also prepared to wait a little for their fast food treat, with 12% telling us they would happily wait over 30 minutes to get served at a drive-through while 5% would, staggeringly, wait over an hour or more. In addition, 15% would even consider blocking traffic to beat another car in to a fast food drive-through queue.
Read on to find out more about the UK's fast food hotspots.
● One in three people would drive 10 miles or further to get their favourite fast food.
● 5% of the public would be prepared to wait over an hour or more in a drive-through to get their hands on a Big Mac.
● On average, you're never more than 5 and a half minutes away from a McDonald's in UK city centres.
● Hastings is the hardest place to get fast food in the UK, taking you nearly 1 hour to find a store.
● Greggs is the most accessible fast food place, with an outlet 0.28 miles from a UK city centre on average, or just over 4 minutes walk.
Big Mac Envy: It Would Take Nearly 20 Minutes To Find A McDonald's Restaurant In Sale, Greater Manchester
Although on average you are never more than 0.35 miles or just over 5 minutes away from a McDonald's in all the town and city centres that we included in our research, some places aren't so lucky. In Sale, Greater Manchester, fast food connoisseurs would have to venture on a 1.33-mile trek to pick up some chicken nuggets from McDonald's, that's just under 20 minutes of walking, and the furthest distance on our list. In total, it takes residents of Sale 3 times the national average to find a McDonald's.
Other towns that suffer from Big Mac Envy include Poole, Portsmouth and Hull, where the nearest McDonald's can be between 17 and 19 minutes away… far too long to wait for your favourite fast food meal!
Greggs Is The Most Accessible Fast Food Place In UK City Centres, With A Store Just Over 4 Minutes Away
Greggs comes out on top for the most accessible fast food place in the UK. On average, there is a Greggs store only 4 minutes and 12 seconds away from the centre of all 100 towns and cities that we analysed as part of our research, meaning you're never far away from bagging yourself a precious sausage roll or Steak Bake. Only Subway came close to matching Greggs, taking you a 0.29-mile walk to find.
It'll take you less time to find a McDonald's than its two main rivals, KFC and Burger King in the UK's city centres. A McDonald's restaurant will be only 0.35 miles away on average - that's just over a five-minute walk. However, you'll have to keep walking an extra four minutes to come across a KFC, and a staggering 23 minutes extra to find yourself a Burger King. The Colonel would be pleased.
Surprisingly, given its popularity, it will also take you some time to find your early morning cup of coffee. Starbucks, with its 995 stores in the UK, will take you a 1.11 mile walk to find, amounting to 16 minutes and 39 seconds.
It's Easier To Pick Up Fast Food In Cardiff Than Anywhere Else In The UK, Taking Just Over 2 Minutes To Find
The people of Cardiff are lucky when it comes to fast food options. If you happen to find yourself in Cardiff city centre, it will only take you a short 0.14-mile or 2 minutes and 6 seconds walk to find a fast food outlet, including McDonald's, Nando's, Domino's and many more – which is the shortest time of any town or city by some way.
Cardiff's closest rivals for the crown of most accessible fast food are Belfast and Leeds, with it taking under 3 minutes to find an outlet. That's a whole 29% longer than Cardiff, although we're guessing inhabitants of those cities can't really complain too much at the 36-second difference.
Overall, seven places in England make our list, with one from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
The Hardest Place To Find Fast Food In The UK is Hastings, Taking Nearly One Hour To Track Down
One of the perks of fast food is that it's meant to be just that – fast. However, nothing could be further from the truth in the South East town of Hastings. To find a fast food restaurant, residents would have to travel an average of 3.98 miles - that's nearly a one-hour walk. Although, there could be some benefits to this, as the average person burns about 100 calories for every mile they walk. That means Hastings residents would be able to burn off a medium portion of McDonald's fries (340 calories) searching for a fast food place – leaving room for a refill once they arrive!
For more automotive insights, fun quizzes, and industry news – make sure to check out the rest of the Vanarama blog. To cut on the food-finding travel time, why not browse our current car leasing deals?