Pubs are failing to persuade customers to spend all of the time and money they have budgeted for their visit, according to new research from him!, writes Rob Willock. Researchers for the latest OnTrack survey asked customers entering pubs how much time and money they anticipated spending; they then asked them, on their exit, how much time and money they had actually spent in the pub. Actual spend and dwell time were consistently less than anticipated. Actual average time spent in pubs was 82.2 minutes compared with an anticipated 86.6 minutes, representing a 5% shortfall. Actual spend on food was £9.34 — 15% less than the anticipated £10.98 spend. And actual drinks spend was £8.42 — 6% less than the anticipated £8.96 spend. The shortfalls come despite survey respondents indicating that customer experience has improved across Britain’s pub estate, with levels of service and cleanliness at a four-year high. The survey of 2,700 pub customers found people are visiting pubs more frequently, but spending less on each visit — suggesting they are seeking more for less and taking advantage of cut-price deals and promotions in an attempt to achieve greater value for money. The average frequency of pub visits has increased from 1.4 times per week to 1.8 times per week over the past year, but average spend on food and drink has fallen. Average food spend per customer fell sharply by 23% from £12.13 to £9.34 after three consecutive annual rises; average drinks spend is up marginally on 2011, but down on its 2010 peak. The average number of drinks consumed per person per visit (at 2.7) is the same as in 2010, but the spend has fallen by 10% from £9.33 to £8.42. So price per drink is down from £3.46 to £3.12, suggesting that customers are buying smaller drinks, cheaper drinks or drinks on promotion. Katy Moses, business development manager at him!, said: “With the tough economic climate, pubs are having to compete more than ever, and not just with each other, but for every pound spent in the leisure sector. Pubs must make the focal point of the experience the elements that cannot be found in the off-trade to keep customers coming to pubs.” The OnTrack survey is designed to help companies understand customer behaviour in pubs and bars; what they do, why they do it and how to influence them. For details, email