The regular survey shows that 44% of business leaders across the hospitality sector are optimistic about its prospects over the next year, up on last quarter’s figure of 30%. Operator confidence about the prospects of their own business has also risen, with 64% of leaders now reporting confidence in their future, up from 58% of people (the lowest point since late 2017) the previous quarter.
“It is encouraging to see some green shoots of optimism and I hope this will gather momentum with a pro-business election result,” says Fourth COO Simon Bocca. “This has the potential to unlock industry investment and a corresponding uptick in consumer confidence. However, it’s clear there are three Ps that remain front of mind for our business leaders - people, profit and politics.”
Despite this rise in confidence, the figures still lag behind those in survey conducted before the EU referendum in 2016, highlighting the shadow that Brexit still casts over the sector almost three years on. Back in February 2015, 93% of leaders were confident about the sector’s performance, with 91% optimistic about the future of their businesses.
Some leaders also remained sceptical about the short-term prospects of business, with 53% believing that consumers will eat and drink out less often in the first six months of 2020, and only 25% anticipating an increase in average spend.
Rising food costs as a result of the UK leaving the EU as well as higher wage costs and property bills were cited by leaders as the biggest challenges they will face in the next six months.
The Business Confidence survey is contains views from 129 leading figures in the eating and drinking out sector with over half either at CEO, MD, chairman or board level.