Chain restaurant operators increased same-line dish prices by +7.3% year-on-year in spring/summer 2022, the latest data from Lumina Intelligence shows.

The rises were driven by decade-high food inflation (+10.1% in July 2022), as well as surging food and energy prices, staffing shortages and a VAT rate back to 20%, its new 2022 UK Restaurant Market Report found.

The exit price of a starter dish increased over the same period, with operators incorporating more premium starter options on restaurant menus, such as antipasti boards, to enable higher prices to be charged in response to rising operating costs.

The entry and exit cost for mains also rose, while the exit price of a dessert dish more than doubled on Spring/Summer 2018.

Operators could position desserts as a sharing dish to encourage spend, the report suggested.

Other findings showed that consumers had become more value-led (+8ppt) year-on-year, with as many as 75% of restaurant customers budgeting for food and drink.

Operators were urged to “emphasise value for money credentials through promotions, loyalty schemes and good quality products and services to boost the restaurant experience”.

Tapping into events including live music would align with the growing consumer value of being experience-led (+7% year-on-year), the report added.

The report also found that restaurant penetration had declined by -1.7ppts to 8.3%, year-on-year, with average spend decreasing by -14%, despite high levels of inflation.

Consumers had become more price conscious, opting for low-ticket channels, by restricting discretionary spending when dining out of home.

Independents saw the biggest decline in penetration and spend, compared to branded, partially driven by a re-alignment post-pandemic, the research found.

The top growing reasons for choosing a venue were cited as a pleasant atmosphere (+1.8ppt) and friendly service (+2.1ppt) “and should be incorporated into strategy, messaging and proposition.”