Pubs and restaurants have been warned to expect fewer customers this Christmas as consumers plan to spend less on socialising.
The 'Christmas Retail Survey' of 1,000 consumers, by consultancy Deloitte, showed that respondents expect to spend an average of £126 on socialising over the festive period, down by 12% from last year.
The survey also found significant differences in expected spend around the UK. Londoners plan on spending the most this year at £158, followed by those living in Northern Ireland (£155). People living in the North East of England are expected to spend the least - just £90 each.
Glyn Bunting, partner in the hospitality and leisure team at Deloitte, said: "While eating turkey with all the trimmings is more or less essential over the festive period, eating and drinking out in bars and restaurants might be less so."
However, despite the economic downturn, 57% of respondents said they intend to spend the same as they did last Christmas and some food-led pubs and restaurants are still expected to perform reasonably well, according to Bunting.
"Despite significant concerns in the pubs and restaurant sector, operators with a strong food offering are cautiously optimistic about Christmas, although rather nervous about a possible New Year hangover persisting well into 2009," he said.
But Bunting warned that, while many consumers do not seem to be spending less when they go out, they are going out less frequently. As a result consumers are turning to branded outlets that guarantee value for money, as well as big brand restaurants offering promotions, he added.
By Lauren Vanderkar
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