Those are among the headlines from CGA by NIQ’s latest Consumer Pulse survey, which provides operators and suppliers with valuable up-to-the-minute insights into consumers’ habits and priorities.
The mid-December survey of around 1,000 nationally representative On Premise users shows that three in five are severely (21%) or moderately (40%) impacted by rising costs. These figures were in line with other Pulse surveys throughout 2023.
Despite the pressure on spending, visits to On Premise venues are stable. Nine in ten (90%) respondents say they are visiting the On Premise at least monthly, with 42% doing so weekly. While 35% say they are going out less frequently than usual, 29% are going out more often. This gap of six percentage points is the narrowest of any month in 2023—a sign that some consumers were happy to loosen their spending in December.
Pubs, bars and restaurants remain a vital part of people’s lives. Two thirds (67%) agree that eating and drinking out is the treat they most look forward to, and three in five (60%) say it is the main way they socialise with people. Reducing visits is often a last resort, with 41% planning to prioritise them if their disposable income falls over the next 12 months—more than the numbers who will prioritise other discretionary areas like clothing (35%), home improvements (33%) and international holidays (27%).
However, a significant number of consumers remain wary about their spending in light of sharp price rises. Well over a third (38%) say they will be going out less often than usual over the next three months—nearly double the number who will go out more (21%). Just over two thirds (68%) say they are watching what they spend on a visit, and more than half (53%) are trying to save money. As well as buying fewer drinks when they go out, some consumers are moving away from more expensive options like cocktails and spirits in favour of cheaper options like soft drinks.
Charlie Mitchell, CGA by NIQ’s research and insight director, said: “The cost of living crisis has taken a toll on spending in pubs, bars and restaurants in the last two years, and our latest Pulse data shows people will continue to feel the pinch well into 2024. Despite that, most remain determined to enjoy their meals and drinks out. There are welcome signs that inflation will ease as the year goes on, which should improve spending confidence and help venues protect their margins. However, consumers are likely to be sharply focused on price for some time, and there is no room for complacency. All operators will need to stay laser-focused on value, quality and exceeding expectations in order to protect footfall and generate growth in 2024.”
CGA’s monthly Cost of Living Pulse helps suppliers and operators track shifts in demand, preferences and priorities and respond with winning strategies. To learn more about the research, email Charlie Mitchell at email@example.com.