Britons are eating out less and spending has dropped when they do, according to newly published data.
Foodservice consultancy Horizons' latest Eating Out-Look report, which surveyed around 2,000 consumers, found a year-on-year decrease in the number of people eating out.
There was a decline of two percentage points with 69% of respondents saying they had eaten out in the previous two weeks of the survey, compared with 71% doing so a year ago. This follows a slow but steady increase in the number of people eating out since the economic downturn in 2008.
The survey, which was conducted by YouGov, also revealed that the frequency of which consumers had eaten out also fell from an average of 2.21 times to 1.92 times year-on-year. Pre-recession, consumers ate out more than three times a week, according to Horizons' data.
Average spend by those who had eaten out also fell, from £12.72 (including drinks) in June 2014 to £12.54 this June. In June 2013 average spend was £13.30.
The decline in eating out was particularly marked amongst the 35-44 year age group. Last summer 72% of respondents to the survey in this age group had eaten out in the previous two weeks, compared with 72% this year.
"If this age group is once again starting to spend on higher ticket items like these, or perhaps new cars, fridges or DIY, it might be that eating out becomes one of those expenses they are prepared to forego temporarily."
The Eating Out-Look survey found that 18-34 year olds are the most likely age group to be eating out, with 77% of respondents in this age group saying they had eaten out in the previous two weeks. This age group also eat out the most frequently, with an average of 2.25 times in the previous two weeks.
Eating out among over-55s is also becoming increasingly common, with 67% of respondents of this age eating out in the previous two weeks, compared with 65% this time last year.
Almost a third (30%) of respondents said they had not eaten out in the past two weeks, with expense, lack of time, and healthy eating and hygiene concerns being most commonly to blame.
Pub restaurants and takeaway/delivery outlets are the favourite eating out destinations among respondents, with 19% of those having eaten out choosing pub restaurants, with the same number choosing takeaway/delivery outlets.
Dinner and lunch are the predominant periods for eating out with 46% of respondents who had eaten out in the previous two weeks eating lunch out (down from 47% last year), while 63% had eaten dinner out in the previous two weeks (up from 62% last year).
Snacking showed a slight dip, with 10% of those who had eaten out saying they had snacked, compared with 12% last year. Eating breakfast out also showed a slight dip, with 10% of respondents having breakfast out compared with nearly 12% at the same time last year.
"The slight dips that we are seeing in pockets of the eating out market suggest that some consumers, particularly the squeezed middle, are choosing to spend their money elsewhere. We are comparing this year's figures with those of 2014, which was a particularly strong year for eating out - it's important to remember that the overall trend is positive and the market is stronger than it was three years ago," added Knight.
Latest video from The Caterer