NPD Group foodservice director UK Cyril Lavenant said: “We see that promoted visits have declined by 7.4% and visits with no promotions have grown 3.8%.
“This is good news for the sector because it means consumers are less promotionally driven when visiting pubs.
“However, due to the current economic uncertainty, consumers are more and more cautious about their spending, which means they will become increasingly more price-aware. In the light of this, it is important that pubs provide attractive meal deals and promotional offerings that work for pubs and for consumers.”
Stealing share from branded pubs
Though branded pubs still enjoy the lion’s share of UK footfall, the Pub Tracker also found independent pubs have enjoyed unexpected growth so far this year – something Lavenant described as a “surprise turn of events”.
Lavenant explained: “For the first time in many years, independent pubs grew visits by 2% in the year ending September 2017, contributing to overall pubs growth and stealing share from branded pubs (branded: 67%; independents: 33%, up 0.5 percentage points).
By comparison, visits to branded pubs decreased by 0.7% year on year.
Lavenant added: “The main growth area for independent pubs is visits during the week, while branded pubs are still winning with weekend visits.
“Have independent pubs finally begun providing consumers with a foodservice offering that resonates well? And can they continue this positive visit trend?”
Unknown impact of Brexit
Having also highlighted that pub outings have become more of a family affair – with the number of pub going parties increasing by 0.5% to account for almost one in five of all visits – Lavenant summarised: “The real challenge will come in 2018, where the still unknown impact of Brexit could hit the channel's growth.
“To attempt to negate any significant Brexit impact, pub operators need to continue delivering excellent service as well as high quality, yet affordable, meals.”