The report, which surveyed 300 businesses including hotels, restaurants, pubs and quick service operators, presented a largely positive outlook for operators.
Of the operators that had seen an increase in food sales, 26 per cent described this as a ‘large’ increase. Around half of the operators also said they are serving more meals at weekends at the moment than they did at this time last year.
In addition to this, fewer operators are taking cost cutting actions this year as opposed to last, with fewer cutting staff hours or freezing wages. Indeed, 28 per cent of businesses have increased staff numbers this year.
Horizons’ director of marketing & business development Emma Read said: “This is a really encouraging result and one that reassures us that recovery in the hospitality sector is well underway.
“Our previous operator survey [May 2014] showed that businesses were much more optimistic about future trading, with a third expecting increases in food sales.
“Six months on their optimism has been proved correct, with the majority of respondents reporting an actual rise in food and drink sales and confidence in the sector even higher.”
Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed also expected food sales to continue to increase over the next year.
The survey showed the latest trends in customer purchasing too. It revealed that fewer customers are purposefully buying lower priced meals, 22 per cent this year as opposed to 33 per cent last year.
Operators also reported that they saw fewer customers using meal deals or promotions, 34 per cent compared to 41 per cent the year before. The operators’ perceptions of average spend per head have also increased.
“While these results indicate that fewer meals deals and promotional offers are available, it also reflects the fact that the consumer mindset is starting to change,” explained Read.
“No longer is price as paramount as it once was. Consumer confidence is returning and with that comes a new willingness amongst diners to treat themselves to a meal out without
worrying quite so much about the cost.”