A poll has shed light on the dining habits of workers hosting business lunches – with alcohol now less of a feature, speed of the essence but the tradition itself in decline.

The study, commissioned by restaurant booking platform, Bookatable.co.uk, showed that 66% of Brits who have been working since the 80s have seen a decline in business lunches over their careers. The poll says 30% of workers in professions that rely on relationship building - such as marketing, advertising and PR - worry that the decline could harm their business.

When it comes to modern business lunches, a third of modern workers now spend an hour or less at the table. The average spend today of £35 per head is a fifth less than in the 1980s (£42 per head).

For businesses in the 80s, eating in Michelin starred restaurants was the norm for 22% of Brits and lunch was a much longer affair spanning two to three hours for three quarters of workers. Some 29% admit to often returning to the office drunk after a business lunch during the ‘heyday’.

When looking at alcohol consumption at business lunches, 21% of workers in the 80s did not consider a business lunch to be a success unless the client was drunk and 39% of workers believe that there was a more relaxed attitude to drinking in the 80s. Whilst a quarter of 80s workers would drink three to four drinks each at a business lunch, only half that number (12%) of modern workers drink the same amount with 38% choosing not to drink alcohol at all at business lunches.

In response to the findings, Bookatable is launching National Business Lunch Week (Monday, June 6 to Friday, June 10) to reignite the trend in lunchtime dining.

John Wiltshire, General Manager at aqua shard, said: “Over recent years we have noticed that our business clientele are looking for lunch options that are more cost and time effective. Since the more decadent days of the 80s when lunches may have been drawn out over hours – with numerous courses and bottles of wine – our modern business diners are looking to be more time efficient with their day, but want the same impeccable standards and menu offerings. We are surrounded by lots of great corporate businesses at aqua shard and we’ve adapted to the evolving needs of British businesses by offering a fixed price seasonal market lunch menu which is extremely popular over the lunchtime service. The menu changes frequently as well as we have many repeat and regular guests.”

Bookatable chief executive Joe Steele, said: “Compared to the seemingly decadent days of the 80s, the business lunch has been on the decline in recent years. Our research shows that perceived expense and a lack of time are major contributing factors – but many restaurants now offer incredible lunchtime deals coupled with speedy service. Doing business over lunch is still a fundamental way to build vital working relationships and Bookatable will shine the light on modern business lunch options during National Business Lunch Week. We want to encourage British business to get out of the meeting room and into the dining room.”

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