The survey of 80 board-level directors found that just 15 per cent are optimistic about the eating and drinking out market’s prospects over the next six months, compared to 75 per cent polled in January.
Nearly two thirds of bosses believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on their business, the study found.
Their main concerns were a drop in consumer confidence, a decrease in available staff, and spiralling product costs, with suppliers warning that food and drink prices could rise by double figures as a consequence of the vote.
“Looking longer term, the picture is slightly brighter, but only slightly, with 30 per cent of operators optimistic about the market over the coming two years,” said Charlie Mitchell, senior consumer research manager at CGA Peach’s parent company.
“Not a single operator has increased their expectations after the referendum, either in the short or long term, 44 per cent have decreased business expectations for the rest of 2016, with 53 per cent lowering forecasts for the next two years,” he added.
Limiting future growth
A pre-referendum survey by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) found that three quarters of hospitality CEO's were backing 'Remain'.
Growth in the eating out sector looks set to slow, with 27 per cent of operators saying they are now less likely to consider an acquisition, and 21 per cent planning to reduce investment in their businesses following the Brexit vote.
Six-out-of-ten operators believe that consumers will go out less frequently over the next six months, while 48 per cent think they will spend less when they do.
Spending on hospitality already fell to a three-year low in the run-up to the vote, but the sector looks set for a short-term boost from international visitors taking advantage of the weakened pound.