A fifth of restaurant owners have come close to shutting down for good – due to no-shows and last-minute cancellations.

The study, of 200 restaurant owners, found a third are given less than one hours’ notice for cancellations – making it unlikely they’ll get another booking in its place.

Owners claim no-shows are up 40 percent and cancellations are up 35 percent – and for every customer who doesn’t turn-up it costs proprietors an average of £89.

Food waste (56 percent), staffing challenges (34 percent) and being forced to close early (23 percent) are the top things affected by diners not turning up.

As a result, late cancellations and no-shows are among the biggest challenges the restaurant industry currently faces – according to 23 percent of owners.

Kirsty Morris, MD for payments provider, Barclaycard Payments, which commissioned the research, said: “The hospitality industry has faced many challenges in recent years and is continuing to feel the strain against the backdrop of the cost-of-living.

“While diners are becoming increasingly picky about the venues they choose to spend their hard-earned cash at, it’s really important this doesn’t translate to indecisiveness and negatively impact restaurants through cancellations.

“With more venues considering charging cancellation fees to deter no-shows, we want to help diners understand the impact on businesses of cancelling at the last-minute so they can think ahead and give advance warning – and not get stung with a cancellation charge.

“Restaurateurs looking to take booking deposits online can do so by working with a trusted payments provider to enable customers to do so at the point of booking.”

The study also found many owners have or are considering introducing measures to help prevent cancellations and no-shows.

More than a third (34 percent) now take card details when taking bookings and charge a fee if a customer does not turn up, while 37 percent plan to introduce this measure in the future.

And 35 percent take a deposit before they’ll reserve a table.

Additional research of 2,000 diners, also by Barclaycard Payments, found 37 percent have cancelled on the day of a booking – typically giving less than six hours’ notice.

However, 27 percent would cancel earlier if they better understood the impact this can have on such businesses.

While 33 percent would be “less likely” to cancel a booking at all if they’d been asked to pay a deposit.

And even though 39 percent feel guilty about letting restaurants down, 11 percent would rather fork out a cancellation fee than phone to cancel a booking, accepting a loss of an average of £29.

Carried out through OnePoll, the study found 51 percent of diners intend to eat out more regularly during the summer than they have done so far this year.

Tom Aikens, owner of Michelin Starred restaurant Muse, said: “We do everything we can to minimise the impact of cancellations through detailed booking confirmations, requesting guests confirm their reservations six days prior, and having a strict five-day cancellation policy.

“This seems to work well for us and leads to less cancellations on the day.

“But unfortunately, there are still some unavoidable circumstances where this is the case, which leads to challenges such as food wastage, staffing levels and fundamentally loss of sales.”

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