The number of people eating out during the first two weeks of September reached its highest level since June last year, with pubs the most visited destination, according to a new survey. The research by FMCG in its latest QuickBite consumer eating out tracking survey found that the number of meals eaten out of home had increased 2.65% to a total of 213 million meals compared to last year. Pubs, which were shown to be more visited than any other outlet in September, increased their market share on the back of a noticeable improvement in pub food since the introduction of the smoking ban. The mainstream casual dining sector saw a 40% lift on the previous year, following a poor performance in September 2007. David Humphreys, director of FMCG, said that the strong September performance was a result of people having resumed eating out more often. Humphreys said: “In our view the latest data reflect a kind of counter-reaction by the consumer to the enduring economic gloom. “Consumers have now temporarily abandoned aspirational and big-ticket expenditure in favour of short-term indulgence spending as an antidote to the depressing economic climate and outlook. However, consumer eating out sentiment remains very fragile as measured by our forward expectations monitor.”