High-street restaurants are attempting to wean customers off "two for one" discount deals as they aim to return to standard pricing.
Horizons' Voucher Tracker, the food service consultancy which monitors the volume and type of on-line money-off deals, has noted that restaurants are moving away from the two for one offers in favour of vouchers offering discounts at more limited times.
Returning to full menu prices is one of the current challenges facing many restaurants which, since the onset of the economic downturn, have tried to boost footfall - particularly in traditionally quieter periods - by offering discount vouchers, but in so doing they have risked damage to the image of their brand and the price perception of customers. Many of the vouchers are downloaded via the internet from sites such as vouchercodes.com.
Kids Eat Free vouchers, which in 2010 were offered by restaurants throughout the year, have this year been issued during the school holidays only, dropping off sharply when the schools went back in September.
The proliferation of discount deals in recent years has meant that customers have got used to paying far less for their meals. However, many restaurant have consequently suffered a negative impact to their operating margins.
Peter Backman, managing director of Horizons, said: "In September our Voucher Tracker research noted a shift away from discounting, particularly family-orientated discounts. Two-for-one deals and money-off vouchers are now being replaced by offers such as "free dessert/starter with every main course" or discounts available at restricted times.
"It seems that we are at last seeing operators trying to wean themselves off the discount deals, which are expensive for them to run, but which consumers have become very reliant on."
In August Voucher Tracker saw brands such as La Tasca, ASK, Ember Inns and Loch Fyne limiting their Kids Eat Free vouchers to the summer holidays, while Frankie & Benny's and Whitbread brands Beefeater, Brewer's Fayre and Table Table opted for a "Free Kid's Breakfast" offer.
By Janet Harmer
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