Britons are less satisfied with restaurant food - and their dining companions

Despite the fact that people are more likely to choose to dine out with their families than they were 20 years ago, new research into people’s eating habits has found that Britons are less happy with the food and service in restaurants - and with their dining companions.

Professor Alan Warde, of The University of Manchester, told the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Newcastle that ratings given by diners for restaurants’ food, decor, service and value for money have all fallen. In addition, while people are more likely to eat out with their families, they say they are less happy with the conversation and company during the meal.

Three researchers compared ratings given in 1995 and in 2015 by 2100 people in London, Bristol and Preston for their last meal at a restaurant or cafe. They found that:

• The proportion satisfied with the meal’s value for money fell from 69% to 56%
• The proportion satisfied with the food itself fell from 81% to 72%
• The proportion satisfied with the service fell from 65% to 57%
• The proportion satisfied with the decor fell from 57% to 48%

While the amount of people dining out as a family rose from 29% to 35%, the researchers found that the rate of people dining out with just their partner fell from 23% to 16%, and with their friends fell from 23% to 21%.

During the same period, diners were less happy with their companions. The proportion who said they were satisfied with the company at the meal fell from 91% to 86%, and the proportion happy with the conversation fell from 82% to 79%.

The results show some important changes over 20 years in how happy people are with dining out. We see that people are generally less satisfied with the last meal they ate in a restaurant, with lower rates of satisfaction for the food, decor, service and value for money.
Professor Alan Warde

​Interestingly, the researchers also found that people were 13% less likely to dress up for the occasion and 8% more likely to eat just one course, which suggests eating out is a less formal event than it was 20 years ago.

Share this release