In its biannual QuickBite survey of dining habits in the UK, Horizons found that 33 per cent of the 2034 respondents cited a special occasion as their reason for eating out in the previous two weeks, including Christmas, up from 23 per cent in July 2011.
"We have noted the tendency of consumers to eat out less, but spend more for some time and this appears to be an on-going trend,” said Emma Read, director of development at Horizons.
“It also seems consumers now need a good reason to eat out – such as a special occasion – and are less inclined to eat out as a matter of course or on impulse.
“Heavy snowfall last year makes it a bad year to compare with, but even so the frequency of eating out shows a significant decline, something we don’t expect to change throughout 2012. It is also clear from this research that cost is the key reason behind this fall.”
Convenience (30 per cent), meeting friends (30 per cent) and not wanting to cook (22 per cent) were the other key reasons for deciding to eat out.
The QuickBite survey also revealed the emergence of a more discerning diner with the quality of food (79 per cent) being the most-mentioned factor when deciding where to eat out. Price came second (70 per cent), followed by cleanliness (64 per cent), standard of service (55 per cent) and ambience (51 per cent).
Key findings of the QuickBite survey:
- An interesting and varied menu was important for 47 per cent of respondents, while 41 per cent choose a venue that won’t rush them.
- Pub-restaurants are the most common places to visit, accounting for 18 per cent of all meals eaten out – up from 17 per cent last year.
- Takeaway and delivery are the second most popular options, accounting for 14 per cent of all eating out.
- Habit remains the strongest factor when choosing an eating out venue with 35 per cent of respondents opting for a familiar venue, up from 31 per cent in July 2011. For 17 per cent the decision on where to eat out is an impulsive one.
- Sixteen per cent of respondents’ venue choices were influenced by recommendations and of those, 86 per cent were from a friend or family member.
- Reviews or websites were mentioned as influential to just 7 per cent of respondents.
- Average spend through the restaurant sector (including drinks) was £17 per head with pub restaurants coming in slightly cheaper at £15.80 per head. Average spend in a takeaway or delivery outlet is £11.