Foodservice operators are releasing the purse strings as they become more confident about the level of business they will do this year, a new study has revealed.
86% of those taking part in the latest Eating Out-Look survey from Horizons and JRA said they were anticipating an increase in sales over the next 12 months.
As a result, they are now prepared to shell out on new catering equipment and less inclined to feel the need to renegotiate equipment maintenance contracts.
Last year, nearly half (46%) were planning to withhold capital expenditure over the forthcoming 12 months. This year just one-third (32%) of operators are planning such cuts.
Likewise, the percentage of operators planning to renegotiate supply contracts has fallen from 68% last year to 65% this year, while those intending to renegotiate equipment maintenance contracts has also dropped, from 38% to 27%.
A quarter of businesses said they were expecting a “large increase” in trade over the next 12 months, with restaurateurs are the most optimistic group, followed by hotels, pubs and bars.
Emma Read, Horizons’ director of marketing and business development, said: “These results support our previous research that shows consumers are beginning to increase their spending on eating out. Operators are much more optimistic about future food sales than they have been, and are now confident to scale back on the cost-cutting measures they implemented last year.”
Over half the survey participants (51%) reported they are now serving more meals at the weekends than they did six months ago, with 47% noting a particular increase in Sunday trade.
This uplift is consistent across outlet types, although pubs and bars report the biggest increase in weekend food sales.