January was a tough month for London restaurateurs, with 60% of operators experiencing a drop in takings, footfall and customer spend, research has found.
The monthly London Restaurant Barometer, which was launched by Business Link last year, found that two-thirds of restaurateurs in the capital said January was down compared with last year, with 20% of those surveyed down more than a quarter.
The survey, which questioned more than 130 operators across London, also saw operators report problems with cash flow, as cash strapped diners ordered fewer starters and desserts and opted for free tap water.
One respondent said he was "very worried" about 2009.
"I didn't think our area would be so affected as the interest rate cut would benefit those with large mortgages," he said. "But this is counteracted by chain restaurants doing deals which we can't compete with."
Ashley De Safrin, tourism and hospitality specialist at Business Link, added that while many restaurants are offering special deals, profit margins are under pressure as a result.
"While encouraging restaurants to market themselves vigorously during these difficult times, I would caution them against offering blanket discounts as this directly affects their profitability and, ultimately, their survival," he warned.
"There are excellent ways of creating new business without having to sacrifice your profits."
To take part in the February London Restaurant Baroment survey, visit the Business Link website here >>
By Kerstin Kühn
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