GEN people eating in a restaurant

Fewer people are eating out less often, report finds

The number of people eating out has dipped and the average spend per meal has fallen according to a new report on the UK’s foodservice sector.

Frequency of eating out has also fallen from an average of 2.21 times to 1.92 times year-on-year, the report found. The annual Eating Out-Look survey is commissioned by foodservice analysts Horizons and conducted by YouGov.

It found that, despite a steady increase in the number of people eating out since 2008’s recession, this fell by two percentage points in the last year, as 69 per cent of respondents said they had eaten out in the previous two weeks of the survey, compared with 71 per cent doing so a year ago.

Average spend fell from £12.72 (including drinks) in June 2014, to £12.54 this June, both below the figure reached in June 2013 of £13.30.

Expense, lack of time, healthy eating and hygiene were among the commonly-cited reasons why people chose not to eat out, and the decline was particularly evident in the 35-44 age group. Last summer, almost three quarters (72 per cent) of respondents to the survey in this age group had eaten out in the previous two weeks, compared to 62 per cent in 2015.

“The 35-44 age group are those most likely to have the biggest financial ties – often having dependent children, house moves to pay for and foreign holidays to save for,” said Horizons’ foodservice analyst Nicola Knight.

“If this age group is once again starting to spend on higher ticket items like these, or perhaps new cars, fridges or DIY, it might be that eating out becomes one of those expenses they are prepared to forego temporarily.”

In contrast, the report found that 18-34 year olds are the most likely age group to be eating out, while eating out among over 55-year-olds is also becoming increasingly common.

Pub restaurants and takeaway/delivery outlets are the favourite eating out destinations amongst respondents with 19 per cent of those having eaten out choosing pub restaurants, with the same number choosing takeaway/delivery outlets.

“The slight dips that we are seeing in pockets of the eating out market suggests that some consumers, particularly the squeezed middle, are choosing to spend their money elsewhere,” added Knight.

“We are comparing this year’s figures with those of 2014, which was a particularly strong year for eating out - it’s important to remember that the overall trend is positive and the market is stronger than it was three years ago.”

The Eating Out-Look survey used a sample of 2,024 adults, questioned between 19 and 21 June 2015.