By Linda Fox
People spent less money eating out in August because of the hot weather, says the Oxford Retail Data (ORD) index.
Since it started in January 1995, the index has found that every time the temperature goes up, the amount each person spends in restaurants decreases.
The results for May and June 1997 substantiate this, with hot spells seemingly to blame for a decrease of more than 2% in the average amount spent for the two months.
A spokesman for ORD advised restaurateurs to put higher-margin products on the menu when hot spells arrive, to compensate for the fact that customers eat lighter meals and salads. Dishes such as cold soups could achieve as good a cash margin as hot starters. He suggested these could be put on specials boards rather than fixed menus, so customers would not feel cheated.
Overall average spend in restaurants has increased by more than 10% since 1995. Spend on eating out in July hit an all-time high, according to the ORD index. Compared with July 1996, average spend had increased by 4.8%.
ORD receives some 4,000 sample responses countrywide. For further information, contact Oxford Retail Data: 01993 824144.