Falling family visits to pubs could be a sign of consumers economising on eating out visits, the NPD Group has suggested.

Its latest Pub Tracker data shows visits with children decreased by 2.6% in the year to March and now account for 19.8% of all pub meal occasions. Adult-only occasions, meanwhile, grew 1.9%.

The data shows visits prompted by deals and promotion decreased by 2.6% and now drive 29.7% of trips to the pub.

Weekend visits were down 0.8% while weekday visits increased 1.8%.

Cyril Lavenant, foodservice director UK at the NPD Group, said: “Pubs grew visits at the same pace as the overall foodservice market in YE March 2017 (Total OOH up 0.9% / pubs up 0.9%). While branded pubs grew visits by 2.6%, there was a negative trend among independent pubs which saw visits decline by -2.4%.

“Promoted visits continue to decline and are down by -2.6%, while non-promoted visits grew by 2.3%. The decline in promoted visits is visible in both branded and independent pubs, which were down by -2.0% and -6.0% respectively. While the pub industry will welcome the fact that non-promoted occasions are successfully driving traffic, pubs still need to have competitive deals/promotions in place as competition is increasingly fierce and British consumers are feeling the squeeze.

“Family visits declined by -0.9%. Perhaps this is an indication that, as prices rise, parents can no longer justify taking the whole family out for a meal. In contrast, rising prices have not impacted adult visits to the channel, which have grown by 1.9% in the last 12 months.

“With clear challenges ahead and an uncertain economic situation looming, pubs must ensure they stand out from the crowd. They can only do this if they have a clear strategy and proposition, and provide excellent quality food, beverages and service.”