Consumers cutting their spending and the economic downturn impacting operators ability to pass on costs led to a 31% increase in the number of insolvencies across the restaurant sector in the final quarter of 2011, according to new research. The report by Wilkins Kennedy showed that 194 restaurants closed in the three months to the end of 2011, while 684 restaurants went under during the entire year, an increase of 19% on 2010 levels, as banks and stakeholders decided to pull support. The accountancy firm said that operators faced difficulties in passing on increases in VAT, the rise in the minimum wage and higher food costs to fewer customers. Anthony Cork, a Wilkins Kennedy partner, said: “Entertainment budgets are still well below their pre-recession level and are likely to remain so for some time.” Cork also said that restaurant operators were uncertain about the impact of the Olympic Games on summer trade, with concerns centring on whether the “influx of tourists will offset the possible loss of regular customers”.