The number of diners expecting to eat out just as much in 2009 as they did last year has dropped by 13 per cent, fuelling fears for a ‘continued decline’.
According to a new Quickbite survey by market analysts Horizons, almost two-thirds of diners do not intend to cut back on eating out this year, although 30 per cent have said they will restrict meals out to special or planned occasions.
“We are seeing a flight to quality with people eating out less but spending more, demonstrating this new ‘save-it for something special’ approach,” said Horizons’ managing director Peter Backman. “The eating out market is polarising – it seems to be sliding away at the incidental sector where spend is under £5, and also the value sector where spend is £5-£11.”
The survey has shown that coffee shops, takeaways and pubs will be hit hardest by the economic downturn, with mid-market and premium restaurants benefiting the most from diners’ decisions to make eating out a special occasion.
Horizons found that while the average spend per head in pubs and pub/restaurants has dropped by almost nine per cent, the sector continues to be the largest providers of meals eaten outside the home, accounting for a third of the market.
While the Midlands appeared to be fairing better than both the north and south, maintaining the same level of out-of-home diners as last year, 25-34 year olds increased how often they ate out, a factor Horizons believes indicates their lack of concern for the downturn compared to those who have experienced a previous recession.
Horizons also found the number of people that claimed to eat out in the run-up to Christmas (72 per cent) had dropped from an average of 3.7 times, to 2.7 times in the same period as the previous year.