The company said 72% of respondents to its online survey reported having eaten out over the Christmas fortnight – a rise of one percentage point on December 2014.
The frequency that respondents were eating out over the two-week Christmas period was also up, from 1.94 times in December 2014 to 2.04 times in December 2015.
However, average spend dropped from £14.48 last year to £14.07. Horizons said the decrease was evident across all age groups, except over 55s, whose spend increased from £13.84 last year to £15.61.
Horizons analyst Liz Land said: “The number of respondents eating out has risen marginally, but the frequency figure shows that people who do dine out are doing so more often, spending less when they do – even over the festive period.
“This is unusual as typically people spend more money eating out over Christmas than at other times of the year. With snacking and lunching mentioned by more respondents, it seems that spend is being spread over a greater number of dining out occasions.”
This year for the first time special occasion was not mentioned by respondents as being the most common reason for eating out (27%), with the most frequently mentioned reason being meeting friends (30%), convenience (28%), or because they didn’t want to cook (22%).
Horizons said that while dinner remained the predominant day part, more respondents said they were having snacks, breakfast or lunch out, than they did six months previously (11% vs 10% respectively), while those eating dinner out had decreased slightly over the past six months (62% vs 63% respectively).
The figures showed 80% of 18-24-year-olds had eaten out over Christmas .However while they had eaten out an average of 3.05 times over the previous two weeks, younger people were amongst the lowest spenders at an average of £12.15 (including drinks).
Of the 27% of respondents who said they had not eaten out over the previous two weeks, 29% cited staying at home with family and friends as the reason while 27% said it was the expense. Another 9% said they hadn’t eaten out because they believed they could eat better and more healthily at home.