The survey, which is designed to gauge operators’ impressions of how the market is performing and their expectations for future growth, also found that a smaller proportion of operators reported a growth in sales while an increased amount of respondents reported no real change in food sales over the last 12 months.
Horizons’ analyst, Liz Land, said: “Having recovered from the economic downturn, the eating out market is now levelling out and growth is likely to be much more conservative illustrated by the declining number of operators still expecting to see sales growth.
“Feedback from the market suggests that consumers are still being cautious over spending. This demonstrates the need for operators to keep their prices competitive.”
The report highlights that although two-thirds of operators say that their food sales have increased year-on-year, purchases on meal deals and promotional meals were down 7 per cent year-on-year to 27 per cent.
Twenty per cent of operators reported that they were no longer taking cost-cutting measures such as renegotiating supply contracts or re-engineering menus to save money, suggesting a greater confidence in the market compared to last year where some imposed staff wage freezes and reductions.