New data from ResDiary has shown that while fine-dining bookings have had significant drop off, pubs have seen no slow-down in dining bookings.

According to new data from ResDiary, there’s been nearly a 30 per cent (28%) decline in premium and fine dining venues since January 2022 – where spend averages higher than $80 per head.

Instead, diners are choosing mid-range venues such as pubs and cafes during these tougher economic times, now accounting for nearly half (48 per cent) of all bookings in Australia, up nearly 10 per cent from a 37 per cent share of bookings in January 2022.

In an effort to understand the macro impact of inflation, interest rate increases and the general rising cost of living on the hospitality industry, ResDiary has mined its data on bookings since the beginning of 2022.

Stefan Overzier, APAC head of customer service and support, said the insights showed that people are still enjoying eating out, but are choosing casual over premium options.

“The data shows Australians still have the desire to head out and enjoy a good quality meal, however we can see people choosing mid-range options, and are experiencing ‘bookers remorse’ for higher end venues as they cancel plans a higher percentage of the time. But it’s not all doom and gloom, your local pubs and cafes are the big winners with an increase in bookings overall.”

With consumers turning to pubs more frequently for their dining-out experiences, the quality of food is more important than ever, suggests publican Chris Deale of inner-Sydney hotel Dove & Olive.

“This year’s trade is stronger than last year, we sell good quality pub food at reasonable prices. Being a mid-range venue gives us an advantage over some other hospitality venues as customers are seeking lower price meals.”

Interest rates, price points and bookings

Price point has become a big factor in whether diners stick with a booking or not, as fine-dining venues saw an 88 per cent increase in cancellations between May (the start of interest rate rises) and October 2022 (just prior to the Christmas season), compared to dining venues with a price point of $61-80. These venues had a significantly lower increase in cancellations of 13 per cent.

There’s also a clear correlation between interest rate increases and cancelled bookings, as Australians rein in discretionary spending.

Since May 2022, the RBA has increased the cash rate from a low of 0.1% to 3.6% to combat inflation. A month after the first interest rate rise in June, ResDiary’s data revealed there was a 9 per cent decrease in the number of bookings across most venue types.

With inflation reaching an all-time high of 7.8% in 2022, it is unsurprising to see a decrease in bookings from February 2022 to February 2023 across most venues.  The only venue category not affected by interest rates? Pubs and cafes. Pub booking numbers remained steady throughout the second half of 2022 and into 2023 despite the economic crisis. Diners are still heading out, but preferring those venues with a lower price point of $21-$40 per head.

You can read more of ResDiary’s insights here.

Vanessa Cavasinni

Vanessa Cavasinni is the managing editor of Australian Hotelier and Club Management, trade publications for the pub and club sectors respectively. Vanessa has been at the helm of Australian Hotelier since...

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