The 0.6% fall in family visits reversed the 0.5% rise seen in the last rolling figure to September. The tracker shows adult visits were flat.
The increasing importance of deals and promotions was in evidence with a 1.4% increase in visist prompted by offers, accounting for 30.8% of all visits.
Weekday visits were up 1.8% compared to the previous year while weekend occasions fell 4%.
Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “Pubs were in visit decline for YE Dec 2017, after four years of positive performance. This means they are performing behind the wider foodservice market (TOOH visits +0.3%; Pubs visits - 0.2%).
“This was driven by independent pubs, which account for 32% of visits with visits down -3.5% in YE December 2017. Branded pubs’ positive performance of +1.3% was not enough to mitigate the performance of Independents.
“Looking at promoted and non-promoted visits, we see promotions growing by +1.4% and occasions without promotions declining by -0.8%. This shows that consumers are looking for value for money. Pubs therefore need to respond by offering promotional incentives without sacrificing quality. The growth of promoted visits is only seen at branded pubs at +3.3%. Promoted visits are more prevalent in branded pubs (39.2% of visits) than in independents (12.8% of visits), so it is important for independents to have the right offer in terms of menu choice and all-round appeal for consumers.
“Adult visits have remained flat, but family visits have declined by -0.6% in 2017. Is the channel losing its appeal to families?
“Pubs are losing relevance in a challenging foodservice market and need to ensure they offer adults only and families a reason to visit that delivers on quality and value for money.”
The latest data from MCA painted a more positive picture, showing pubs continue to win share from restaurants as consumers increasingly demand perceived value for money.
MCA’s Pub Brand Monitor showed pubs remain the leading dinner outlet and have grown their share of dinner visits from 27.6% to 28.2% between Q4 2016 and Q4 2017.
Pubs have also become more popular for breakfast, with an increased share of visits, from 8.8% to 10.0%, and increased average spend per visit, up 4% to £6.18.
For more information about MCA’s Pub Brand Monitor contact Laura Bicknell Laura.Bicknell@wrbm.com