More than 70% of respondents to a survey for specialist foodservice data firm Horizons said they had eaten out in the past fortnight, compared to 67% the previous year.
The Horizons Eating Out-Look survey was conducted online by YouGov, interviewing consumers in June 2013 and again in June of this year.
The company said the findings are “a clear sign that confidence is returning to the sector”.
Food quality was found to be the most important factor when choosing a venue.
However, the survey also found that average spend has dropped year-on-year from £13.30 to £12.71 per visit.
Nicola Knight, director of services at Horizons, said this drop suggests “there is a greater willingness amongst consumers to intersperse special occasion meals with more everyday purchases”.
When choosing where to eat, food quality was the most cited factor amongst respondents (76%) with price second (65%) and cleanliness third (60%).
Over half (53%) of diners said that it was important for them to know the origin of the main ingredients in a dish they are going to eat.
Other important factors cited by respondents included vegetarian options (12%) low fat options (9%) and the availability of calorie information (12%).
The Horizons survey also asked consumers about their reasons for eating out, finding that convenience was the most frequently cited reason at 27%, followed by the social aspect of dining out (26%).
Diners also reported that they opt for meals out or takeaways because they don’t want to cook for themselves (25%), are hungry (20%) or because meals out represent good value for money (17%).
The most popular time of day for dining was also investigated as part of the survey. While the majority of those dining out continue to do so in the evening (63%), 47% have lunch out and an increasing number eat breakfast out of home, up to 12% compared with 10% for the same period in 2013.
And as for who is eating out, the survey found that by age, younger age groups, 18-24 and 25-34, are most likely to eat out at 78% and 79% respectively.
Those aged over 55 eat out less frequently than their younger counterparts but are spending more when they do, according to the survey.
Older diners were said to spend an average of £13.78 per person while those aged 18-24 spend £10.40.
For those not dining out, expense was cited as the most common barrier, with quality and healthiness of food also having an influence.