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Eating out sector remains robust, with next six months set for growth

03 August 2011 by

The eating out sector is proving resilient despite ongoing economic uncertainty, with British consumers continuing to dine out at restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets.

This has been the finding of two separate surveys into the sector, which suggest that over the past year diners ate out regularly and predict that they will continue to do so over the next six months.

According to the Quickbite report from food service analyst firm Horizons there has been a decline in the number of times people ate out in the past year, but on average diners still visited food service outlets once a week.

Although this is equivalent to a 26% decline compared with the 1.4 times a week they ate out the previous year, there has been a rise in the amount of money spent when dining out. An average meal, including drinks, now costs £12.69, a 9% increase over 2010.

vouchers on the wane
Horizon's report also found that diners' choice of venue is no longer influenced by discount vouchers or other marketing offers, with nearly a third (31%) of consumers saying they choose a restaurant out of habit. Nearly a quarter (22%) said they choose venues spontaneously, while 14% said they rely mainly on recommendation.

"This is an important finding for those operators currently caught in a price war of money-off vouchers and special offers. While 11% of respondents to our survey were influenced by offers, loyalty to a particular venue and recommendations seem more important in their choice of venue," said Emma Read, director of marketing and business development at Horizons.

Meanwhile a separate report by business advisory firm Deloitte suggests that looking ahead, consumers anticipate a 1.4% increase in the number of times they will eat out over the next six months.

north/south divide
However, the Taste of the Nation report found that eating out is more popular in the South East of England where diners plan to eat out 5.8% more often than they are currently compared with the North, where there's a 2.7% anticipated decrease.

Coffee and sandwich shops now account for a third of meals consumed out of the home, eclipsing a visit to the pub (24%) or bar (16%). Fast food outlets meanwhile account for 14% of eating out, ahead of casual dining (7%) and formal dining (4%).

"Eating and drinking out is much less dependent on overall consumer spending and confidence than it used to be," said Jon Lake, corporate finance director in the licensed retail group at Deloitte.

"The findings demonstrate just how resilient British consumers are and their reluctance to reduce the frequency with which they go out."

KEY FINDINGS
26% decline in amount of meals consumed out of the home over the past year
â- 9% increase in price for average meal
â- 1.4% anticipated increase in meals consumed out of the home over the next six months
â- 33% of out-of-home meals consumed in sandwich bars and coffee shops
â- 31% of consumers choose restaurants out of habit

Consumers will continue to eat out over the next six months, report predicts >>

Restaurants continue to outperform retail sector in June >>

Fast-casual lunch drives £42b eating-out spend >>

By Kerstin KÁ¼hn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin KÁ¼hn here.

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