Good news for hospitality businesses as a new survey shows that more people are eating out more often.
According to market research company Him's survey of 1,310 diners, one in five people eat out more regularly than they did just 12 months ago. Biggest jumps were at high-street retail sites such as Starbucks and Pret A Manger (26% visited more frequently than in 2004), fast-food chains (25%) and single-unit operators (24%).
Tony Horton, managing director of Tricon food service consultancy, believes that it's part of a trend that started in the 1980s. "Continental Europe used to be ahead of us in terms of eating out, but over the last 20 years the UK market has accelerated and we're now well ahead," he said.
The study showed that 51% never eat out, 21% do so between one and five times a month, and 10% dine out between five and 10 times a month. Asked why they chose a particular outlet, the majority (61%) said it was a matter of "convenient location".
Brand loyalty accounted for 13% of visits, 9% chose a location out of habit and 4% chose where to eat through a recommendation.
Customers were also asked to choose the most important factors when eating out. Food quality was most important (67% average across all types of outlet), closely followed by value for money (64%).
Other key issues in declining level of importance were menu range (51%), child-friendliness (37%) and speed of service (26%).
Nick Basing, chief executive of the Paramount Restaurants group, said the top two factors had always been the most important, but new trends were becomingly increasingly significant.
"Speed of service has become more important, particularly among business people and families with children," he said. "Expectations of good quality have risen as the standard of ready-made meals has improved," he added.
- 21% surveyed eat out more.
- 10% dine out between five to 10 times a month.
- 67% said food quality was most important.
- 64% said value for money was most influential factor.
By Tom Bill
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