CONFIDENCE is continuing to grow among operators of food-led businesses, with more than two thirds reporting an uplift in sales.
That’s the conclusion of the latest Eating Out-Look report by Horizons, which said more than a quarter of hotel, pub and restaurant operators surveyed had reported a ‘large increase’ in food sales, while around half said they are serving more meals at the weekend than they did this time last year.
Fewer operators are taking cost-cutting action this year, according to the report, which said a “significant proportion” of businesses have increased staff numbers.
The survey also revealed that fewer consumers are ‘trading down’ to lower-priced meals and the number of customers purchasing food using meal deals or promotions has dropped to 34%, compared with 41% a year ago.
In line with this, operators’ perceptions of average spend per head has increased significantly this year, the report said, with the number of consumers spending £12-£16 up from 12% in autumn 2013 to 18% this year and those spending over £25 up from 10% to 13% in the same period.
“While this indicates that fewer meal deals and promotional offers are available, it also reflects the fact that the consumer mindset is starting to change,” said Emma Read, Horizons’ director of marketing and business development.
“No longer is price as paramount as it once was – consumer confidence is returning and with that comes a new willingness amongst diners to treat themselves to a meal out without worrying quite so much about the cost.”