Pub and restaurant price gap shrinks to £2

The gap in pricing between pubs and restaurants is continuing to narrow in the UK, according to new research published this week.

Analyst firm Horizons said the deficit had largely been reduced because of pubs becoming more expensive to eat in, but restaurants have been running a high-than-usual number of promotions as well.

While the average price of a three-course meal in a restaurant has fallen 4.6% to £20.66 in the past year, the equivalent offer in a pub has risen 7.4% from 18.67.

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The latest changes mean that the difference in cost between eating in a restaurant and a pub is now typically just £2.

Horizons revealed that the average main course dish in a pub now costs £9.39, up 10.7% from £8.48 a year ago. The equivalent course in a restaurant has fallen 3% from £11.29 to £10.95. Similar trends were found for starters and desserts.

Food prices in pubs have now increased for the last four years, which Horizons acknowledges could reflect improving food offers in the sector and the associated cost of producing better quality dishes.

Restaurant prices, meanwhile, have been falling for the past two years. Pricing is currently on a par with winter 2011 levels.

Nicola Knight, Horizons’ director of services, said the results indicated that restaurants, in particular, were still feeling the squeeze going into the New Year and have taken fairly drastic action to keep customers coming in.

“Overall operators have returned to the price points of winter 2012 from higher levels set over the summer and have also used record levels of meal deal promotions to attract customers in,” she said. “It is clear from our data that the pub sector is starting to feel more confident, evident in the fact their prices have risen as they feel able to pass on rising costs to their customers.”

The survey also revealed that the use of meal deals has reached a new high, with 76% of brands surveyed using meal deal promotions during winter 2013, compared with 59% in summer 2013 and 70% in winter 2012.

In terms of food trends, the research highlighted the growing popularity of premium cuts of steak, such as rib eye and sirloin, while rump steak is appearing less often on menus. Traditional roasts are also seeing something of a revival, with roast chicken and roast beef making their first appearances in the top 20 main course dishes.

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