The growing number of people living on their own is seeing a sales boom in small items of kitchenware and tableware.
According to Debenhams, sales of single-serve products are up 140% on those of last year. Amongst the top sellers are a tiny wok, frypans designed to cook just one egg, plates for a single slice of toast and one-cup teapots.
Commenting on the trend, Steve Lightfoot, trading director for Home at Debenhams, said: “Some of these pots and pans are so small that they wouldn’t look out of place in a doll’s house.
“Our sales figures show that people are not only cooking simple meals for one but preparing increasingly smaller servings. Never mind beans on toast: these dishes are so small that it’s more likely to be bean on toast.”
Thirty years ago such small kitchenware items were a rarity, with tableware and cookware designed to cater for four to eight people being the best sellers.
These days, however, the number of single-person households is on the up as people get married later or do not marry at all, are more likely to get divorced and live longer. And while there are currently 7.5m single households, the figure is predicted to rise by over 2m within the next 10 years.
“Single people are choosing smaller pots and pans because they’re more economical to use,” went on Lightfoot. “They require less energy to heat, less water to wash and take up less space in the cupboard. They’re ideal for modern, urban, single-style living and there’s no doubt that demand for single-serve cookware is set to grow extremely quickly.
“However,” he warned, “cooking on such a small scale may eventually make traditional recipes in older cookbooks virtually unusable. They’re all designed for meals of up to four people, and the volumes of ingredients they use can’t be easily translated into cooking for one.”
The best-selling product in the whole of Debenhams’ cookshop department is now a mini hanging wok, and sales of a miniature egg frypan are up 42% on a year ago.