UK restaurant operators have responded to the economic downturn by creating a market of deals and promotions that could save UK diners nearly £135m a week, according to new research. The latest findings by the Livebookings Dining index, which is based on online and mobile bookings data across 9,000 restaurants from 23 countries, found that the number of dining deals offered across Europe had increased rapidly in 2011. Sweden and the UK offer the biggest discounts, with both countries averaging a 50% difference between the cost of eating out from a full menu, compared to the cost of eating out using a deal. The study found that the average saving made by buying a deal in the UK was £15.48 compared to £19.05 in Sweden and £14.63 in Spain. The research also showed that the UK had seen a 44% growth in mobile bookings in the first half of 2011 compared to the last six months of last year, while one on five online reservations is expected to be made by mobile in 2012. The Index also reveals that there had been a 43% increase in online bookings in the UK in the first half of 2011 compared to the second half of 2010. This increase is echoed across Europe with online reservations increasing by 41%. Colin Tenwick, chief executive of Livebookings, said: “The economic climate has seen huge innovations in the restaurant industry. By creating a deals market and through embracing technology, restaurants have shown a robustness at a time when many other businesses are starting to feel nervous. The deals market is vast, encompassing all types of restaurants, and consumers are tapping into it every day, but our message is that consumers don’t quite realise the extent of offers available and are actually well-placed to make even more savings when eating out.” The study also found that in the UK, the most popular type of restaurant cuisine when dining out is Italian, with 29% of all online bookings made for Italian restaurants. This was followed by British (24%). Europe has shown less loyalty to local cuisine, with diners in the UK, Spain, Denmark and Germany all preferring other types of cuisine. The French remain most loyal to own cuisine type – 60% of online bookings in this market were made for French restaurants.