The economic slowdown will impact the eating out habits of consumers but the restaurant sector is far more resilient than it was during the 1990s recession, according to a new report.
In a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey of 1,000 consumers, 27% said the first items they would cut back on would be restaurant meals, takeaways or fast food, and visits to the local pub.
But, there have been positive changes since the recession of the early 1990s, with eating out changing from a discretionary activity to an essential one, the report said. During the previous downturn one in five people ate out regularly, but that figure has trebled.
David Trunkfield, director at PwC, said: "There is a wider range of restaurants this time around and much wider choice of casual dining options for consumers.
"Eating out used to be a more formal, three-course meal but is now a habit for many consumers enjoying affordable choice. The credit crunch will not change the course of this cultural behaviour."
High earners and younger consumers will continue to eat out regardless of economic conditions, Trunkfield added.
"The good news is that the under 25s, who are not tied to a mortgage, are still spending and enjoying the hospitality scene," he said.
"In addition the AB demographic will also keep the restaurant cash tills ringing as they downgrade and dip into the varied, casual dining scene, but continue to eat out."
By Daniel Thomas
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