Restaurants are pushing customers away by being too loud, with noise levels in some topping over 90db on busy nights, which is the equivalent of eating next to a motorcycle or lawnmower.
New figures released by the national charity Action on Hearing Loss revealed that customers are turning to takeaways with over 43% of potential diners have opting to get a takeaway instead of going out for a meal.
In a survey of 1,200 people conducted from 3-6 February 2017, 91% stated that they wouldn't return to a noisy place and 79% of people surveyed had left a restaurant early due to excessive background noise.
The optimum noise level for 70% of people was conversational buzz and a low level of background noise which enabled them to still hear their others at their table.
The charity took decibel readings from a variety of chain restaurants before 6pm. The highest figure was at a Patisserie Valerie café (97.8db) followed by Wagamama (90.1db), Pizza Express (87.9db), Prezzo (87.8db) and Bella Italia (87.7db).
Paul Breckell, Action on Hearing Loss chief executive said: "These results demonstrate the business case for restaurants putting some real consideration into their acoustics. There are over 11 million people in the UK have some degree of hearing loss and they are beginning to spend money elsewhere. Everyone loves going out for a meal but with an increasing variety of takeaway options and the intrusive background noise levels exacerbated by fashionable hard surfaces, it's no wonder customers are opting to stay in. It's entirely reasonable for customers to expect to hear companions sat opposite them."
Breckell said that Action on Hearing Loss has contacted the top names in the industry offering our advice on the ways of getting noise levels down, but despite overwhelming evidence that noisy venues are increasingly becoming a customer turn-off there still seems to be a lack of interest, so I would urge customers to make themselves heard. Join our #DecibelSquad to leave online reviews of your dining experience so that owners and chains can start to take heed of the need to take noise off the menu."
The charity has produced a guide for restaurants which outlines cost effective ways to be more accessible to customers with hearing loss, from reducing the volume of background music, using soft furnishings that better absorb sound to investing in acoustic treatments.
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