Ruth Mitchell

Dining out despite the recession

Over half of all UK consumers have used vouchers when eating out in an attempt to make economies, according to new research.

The ‘Taste of the Nation’ survey, compiled by Deloitte and BDRC Continental showed that 61% of consumers have used vouchers for casual dining, 48% in a pub and 50% in a fine dining establishment.

However, only 1 in 4 respondents said that vouchers make them go out more often than they otherwise would, and 20% said they would stop visiting an outlet if it stopped offering vouchers

While vouchers have encouraged many consumers to frequent food and drink outlets, Paul Feechan, consumer business partner at Deloitte Newcastle is concerned that some operators have become overly reliant on them.

He commented: “In the run up to Christmas, voucher offers were removed by some operators. Other outlets offered a different deal, such as three-for-two, instead of the more generous two-for-one and buy-one-get-one-free offers, or a gift with every main course.

“However, the challenge comes when converting that consumer into a loyal customer willing to pay the full price in their establishment.

“Operators need to strike a balance between curbing the use of vouchers in their outlets whilst retaining their loyal customer base.”

The survey also showed that 18-24 year olds were most savvy in terms of locating vouchers, with many singing up to websites and forums. 42% said that vouchers allowed them to visit destinations they wouldn’t otherwise visit, and 27% said they would stop going to a venue if it stopped offering vouchers.

Feechan added: “Some will find it difficult to determine the most effective method for phasing out vouchers and increasing their customers’ average spend whilst retaining their loyalty.

“However, our research indicates it could be achievable. Just one in five consumers in our survey say they spend more on additional food dishes when a voucher is available to them than they do without one, and just 18% say they spend more on drinks.”

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