Of the 170 senior executives from across the pub, restaurant, bar and café market responding to the survey last month, two thirds (66%) said they were positive about prospects for their own businesses in the coming 12 months, with just 43% optimistic about the market as a whole.
Both figures are down from the last survey carried out in February when the respective numbers were 68% and 47%, but come on the back of new cost pressures for companies, principally from business rates and the cost of goods due to the falling pound.
“At the start of the year, the market had looked like it was recovering some confidence after it hit rock bottom after the Brexit referendum this time last year. The vast majority of senior executives had voted to remain. But that now looks to be on hold.
— CGA Peach’s vice president Peter Martin,
The main concerns for bosses are business rates and food costs, cited by 79% and 78% respectively, followed by decreased staff availability, rental and property cost and increased staff costs.
“The number of business leaders concerned about rising food prices has increased 11 percentage points since the start of 2017 and reflects the fact that foodservice inflation is running at 5.8%, according to latest figures from the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index,” added Martin.
As a result, 49% of those surveyed said they had already implemented price increases on certain food menu items, with 35% saying they had upped prices for consumers across their menus. A similar number had also upped drinks prices.
“Although to date, the public has generally continued to go out to eat and drink as normal, not surprisingly, 57% of senior executives are now worried about consumer confidence over the next six months,” said Martin. “Only 8% of operators expect the public to go out more frequently in the next six months, with 31% expecting an increase in spend – although this is down from 41% in February.
“To put this current nervousness into perspective, at the start of 2016 83% of senior executives were optimistic about their own business’s prospects for the coming year, with three quarters (74%) positive about the market. We are now living in much more challenging times.”