The Caterer

Operators report increasing optimism for eating-out sector but concerns remain

16 December 2019 by
Operators report increasing optimism for eating-out sector but concerns remain

Optimism in the eating and drinking-out market has reached an 18-month high, although concerns about rising costs and a 2020 squeeze on consumer spending remain.

CGA’s quarterly business confidence survey of leaders across the UK pub, bar and restaurant markets, found that 44% were optimistic about the sector’s prospects over the next 12 months.

The results mark a substantial increase on the 30% who felt optimistic three months ago, and is at its highest point since May 2018.

CGA group chief executive, Phil Tate, said: “After a tough 2019 for many out-of-home eating and drinking businesses, the signs of cautious optimism in this survey are very welcome.

“The sector still faces a host of challenges—many of which, like increased costs, are out of their control. But this is a resilient and innovative industry, and even during testing times there are big opportunities for operators with the right concept with the right price and the right consumer focus. If businesses can get some economic stability and the right support from government, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2020.”

The number of operators who are confident in their own businesses’ prospects has also risen quarter-on-quarter, seeing a 6% hike to 64%.

But, while confidence is improving, it remains behind levels seen before the 2016 EU Referendum.

The survey, produced in association with Fourth, highlighted operator concern about footfall and spending into 2020 with 53% of those asked believing people will eat and drink out less often in the next six months and just 25% predicting an increase in average spend.

Simon Bocca, Fourth’s chief operating officer, said: “It is encouraging to see some green shoots of optimism and I hope this will gather momentum with a pro-business election result. This has the potential to unlock industry investment and a corresponding uptick in consumer confidence. However, it’s clear there are three Ps that remain front of mind for our business leaders - people, profit and politics.”

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