Restaurant discounts and vouchers are still popular with nearly two thirds of consumers using them when dining out but just 18 per cent say they would stop visiting somewhere if they were removed, according to a new survey from Deloitte.
Casual or fast food style restaurants are the most popular places for consumers looking for discounts with more than 60 per cent of diners using vouchers, while half will use them in a fine dining establishment and 48 per cent in a pub or bar.
Deloitte talked to 3,000 UK consumers about their eating and drinking out habits in the latest Taste of the Nation survey and the findings show that vouchers were popular among diners during a busy Summer period.
Consumers to eat out less in next six months
Despite economic problems, on average diners in the UK went out for food or drink almost 20 times a month, more than six months ago, but they are more cautious about the next six months and expect to eat out less in the first half of 2012.
The survey finds that vouchers from sites like Groupon are a big part of the resilience of the sector and are now widely used across the hospitality industry. Young people are the biggest users of vouchers although just over half of over-55 year old diners also use them.
Less than 1 in 5 would boycott outlets that removed vouchers
However, the impact of dining vouchers might not be as obvious as the headline figures suggest. Just a quarter of consumers say they eat out more because of vouchers and only 18 per cent would stop visiting a restaurant or bar who removed the discount.
The youngest age group were the most likely to boycott somewhere that stopped offering vouchers but Jon Lake, a corporate finance director in the licensed retail group at Deloitte, said discounts were not the only way to increase their loyalty.
“Vouchers are undoubtedly an excellent tool to generate new custom, especially amongst the 18-34 age group, the biggest market for eating out. However, the challenge comes when converting that consumer into a loyal customer willing to pay the full price in their establishment.
"Some will find it difficult to determine the most effective method for phasing out vouchers and increasing their customers’ average spend whilst retaining their loyalty. However, our research indicates it could be achievable," Lake concluded.
Earlier this week BigHospitality reported that the food service consultancy Horizons predicted restaurants would continue to use vouchers but cuts in food costs would help counteract the cost for operators.