Consumers’ spending confidence rises as cost of living pressures ease for some

British consumers are cautiously increasing their visits and spending in pubs, bars and restaurants, CGA’s latest Cost of Living Pulse research reveals.

The exclusive survey shows more than two in five (43%) consumers went out to eat or drink at least weekly in March—two percentage points more than in February, and the joint highest figure since early 2023. More than a third (37%) of consumers say they spent more money on eating and drinking out than they did in February—a month-on-month increase of eight percentage points, and significantly higher than the 28% who are spending less.


Younger adults and regular visitors are driving the increase in visits, CGA’s research shows. Nearly half (48%) of those aged 18 to 34 are going out more often than usual—nearly double the number who are going out less (27%). Among consumers who typically go out weekly, two in five (40%) are visiting more frequently, while 19% are going out less often.


The figures raise hopes that consumers are increasingly confident about their spending as inflation and cost pressures ease. There are signs that momentum will build further in 2024, as nearly a third (31%) anticipate allocating more money to eating and drinking out over the next month—five percentage points more than those who will spend less (26%). Optimism has been lifted further by the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker, which reported above-inflation year-on-year sales growth of 5.2% for managed hospitality groups in March.


However, well over half (57%) of all respondents say they are still severely or moderately impacted by the cost of living crisis. Two thirds (69%) of those who are going out less often than usual say it is because of cost of living increases, and nearly half cite menu price increases (48%). The majority of older consumers, rural residents and infrequent users continue to visit pubs, bars and restaurants less often than usual.


Hannah Payne, CGA by NIQ’s consumer research director, said: “The cost of living crisis continues to have major impacts for many consumers, but our research has welcome signs that spending is starting to loosen. Increasing visits from regular guests and those seeking to treat themselves are particularly encouraging, and if inflation continues to ease we can be cautiously confident that more people will increase their visits and spend as we move towards the summer. However, with so many people still watching their outgoings closely, pubs, bars and restaurants will have to remain laser-focused on understanding consumers’ priorities and delivering good value for money.”


CGA’s Cost of Living Pulse survey collects views from 1,000 nationally representative On Premise consumers in Britain and Ireland. The latest survey was conducted in late March and early April 2024. The data helps suppliers and operators track shifts in demand, preferences and priorities, and respond with winning strategies. To learn more, and subscribe to the reports, contact Hannah Payne here.

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