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Eating out rises 4% says Horizons' consumer survey

Eating out rises 4% says Horizons' consumer survey

Consumers are eating out more often this summer than they did this time last year, with 71% of respondents to a new Horizons' survey saying they had eaten out in the past two weeks, a clear sign that confidence is returning to the sector.

The Eating Out-Look survey, conducted online by YouGov among 2,366 respondents, reveals that convenience (27%) and conviviality (26%) are the most frequently cited reasons for eating out among those who have done so, but increasingly consumers report that they opt for meals out or takeaways because they don’t want to cook themselves (25%), are hungry (20%) or because meals out represent good value for money (17%).

However, while the number of survey respondents eating out this summer has risen from 67% in June 2013 to 71% in July 2014, average spend has dropped year-on-year from £13.30 to £12.72.

“Although frequency of eating out is still below pre-recession levels, the increase in penetration and frequency of eating out indicates that the sector is no longer in decline,” commented Horizons’ director of services Nicola Knight. “The fact average spend has dropped slightly suggests that there is a greater willingness among consumers to intersperse special occasion meals with more everyday purchases.”

Respondents to the survey reported that over the previous two weeks they had eaten out an average of 2.21 times, up from last year’s average frequency of 1.77 times. While pub restaurants continue to take a healthy share of the market, when asked where they last ate out, takeaway and home delivered food proved more popular at 19% (up from16%) suggesting that the rise in eating out is consumers ‘topping up’ with takeaway or delivered food between more formal meal occasions.

According to the survey, the increase in eating out is driven by those on higher incomes (ABC1s), (78% vs. 73% in 2013) and is seen across the nation with the exception of the Midlands (65% vs. 69% in 2013).

While the majority of those dining out do so in the evening (63%), 47% have lunch out and an increasing number eat breakfast out of home (12%) compared with this time last year (10%).

Some 12% of respondents to the survey who eat out said they looked for vegetarian options when choosing where they eat out or what they eat, with 12% saying calorie information affects where and what they choose to eat and 9% looking for low-fat options. Over half of diners (53%) say that it is important for them to know the origin of the main ingredients in a dish they are going to eat.

Women are more likely to mention at least one health or lifestyle issue affecting their choice of eating out venue (37%), with only 25% of men having the same concerns.

Younger age groups (18-24 and 25-34) are most likely to eat out at 78% and 79%, with those aged over 55 eating out less frequently, but spending the most when they do (£13.78), with those aged 18-24 spending the least (£10.40).

When choosing somewhere to eat out, the quality of food is the most frequently cited factor among respondents (76%), with price second (65%) and cleanliness third (60%).

So what puts people off eating out? Of the respondents who hadn’t eaten out in the past two weeks (27%), expense was the most commonly cited barrier, with quality and healthiness also having an influence.

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