Operators are lowering their prices to entice diners through their doors, and making up the shortfall by increasing dessert and starter prices, according to market analyst Horizons.
Its biannual Menu Trends survey has revealed a 10% increase in the price of desserts offered in hotels, while the average price of a main course has dropped by 2.1% in the past year, averaging at the price of £10.71 across all sectors.
Meanwhile, hotels have dropped main course prices by 4.1% in the past year, but raised the average price of a starter by 15.6%, subsequently affecting the cost of a three-course meal, increasing the average cost to £28.59.
Restaurants charged 1.2% less for main courses, but increased dessert prices by 1.8%.
Pubs were an exception to the findings, and increased main course prices by 1.4% and, in contrast to other outlets, starters became 12.5% cheaper.
Nicola Knight, director of services at Horizons, said: "Overall the cost of eating out has risen at a slower rate than inflation over the past year so it seems that operators do not seem able to increase their prices to reflect additional costs such as the National Living Wage and the possibility of supply costs increasing post-Brexit."
Horizons Menu Trends survey tracks changes on the menus of 121 restaurants, pubs, quick service outlets and hotels.
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