British consumers are still going out to eat and drink, in some cases even more so than before, despite the challenging economic conditions.
That's the finding from the latest Taste of the Nation survey conducted by deloitte and BDRC Continental.
Researchers spoke to 3,000 adult consumers from across the country to learn about their eating and drinking habits out of the home, taking into consideration every time they purchase drink or food from a pub, bar, coffee/sandwich shop, quick service outlet, restaurant or club, whether it be a sit-in or take-away occasion.
The survey results reveal consumers have been going out to eat and drink 12% more often than six months ago (up from 17.5 occasions per month on average to 19.7) and significantly higher than the predicted increase of 3%, when the question was last asked in April.
The growth has primarily been driven by two consumer groups: 18-34 year olds, recording an average of 30.4 going out occasions per month, compared to 24.8 occasions six months ago, and "frequent users", being those that go out at least twice a week, predominantly males going out for a drink (up 10%).
However, the survey's financial sentiment index indicates 38% are expecting to be worse off in the next six months (34% in April 2011). As such, consumers say their overall outings are expected to stall, dropping marginally by 1.4% (down from 19.7 occasions per month to 19.4).
Jon Lake, a corporate finance director in the licensed retail group at Deloitte, said: "Despite a gloomy outlook, the eating and drinking out market has bucked the trend over the last six months. Whilst an element of the growth can be attributed to seasonality and the welcome boost provided by a late summer, these latest findings demonstrate the continuing resilience of the going out market and are a reflection of the importance of the sector for the UK consumer.
"The coming months may prove more challenging. However, consumers are still regularly going out and those operators that continue to be innovative and tailor their offer accordingly should continue to prosper. With the continued rise in the number of outlets and brands being introduced, the going out market will continue to be highly competitive."
Key highlights from the survey report:
â- Consumers are expecting to go out 1.4% less in the coming months (down from 19.7 occasions per month to 19.4); those in the South West region (down 9%) and drink-led occasions (down 6%) are expecting the highest decrease;
â- 18-34 year olds (on average 30.4 going out occasions per month) have driven the recent increase, going out 23% more over the past six months, almost twice as often 35-54 year olds (16.9 occasions per month);
â- Males continue to dominate the market and go out over 50% more than their female counterparts - 23.9 occasions per month compared to 15.3 for females. Over the next six months, the number of occasions for eating and drinking are predicted to remain flat;
â- The North recorded a rise in overall outings recently (up 13%), despite being the only region in the previous survey to forecast a decrease (down 1.1% six months ago);
â- Londoners (on average 28.2 going out occasions per month) go out over a third more than the next highest region, the North (20.6 occasions per month).
By Neil Gerrard
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