New American Express research has revealed continued consumer support for small restaurants and other independent hospitality venues, and a strong appetite to enjoy new dining experiences across the summer.

The survey asked 2,000 UK consumers to reflect on their visits to independent restaurants, bistros and cafes over the last 12 months, and found that the majority (72%) said the frequency of their visits had either stayed the same or increased, despite the challenging backdrop. Looking ahead, the study revealed a willingness for people to seek out new dining experiences and cuisines this summer – one fifth (19%) of those surveyed said they plan on visiting new independent restaurants local to them in the coming weeks.

The research also identified a specific cohort of ‘super diners’; one quarter (26%) of those surveyed said they eat out at independent restaurants two or three times a month – a demonstration of how much consumers’ value these businesses.

In terms of why people choose to spend with independent restaurants, three-fifths (61%) said they like to show support for small businesses during tough economic times; a similar number (59%) said they enjoy the personalised service they receive.

Diners will also show their goodwill and generosity following a positive experience: Over three quarters (79%) would recommend a restaurant to friends and family, with six in 10 (59%) stating they would likely spend more when next visiting.

Dan Edelman, General Manager, UK Merchant Services at American Express, said: “Independent restaurants and other hospitality venues make a huge contribution to creating vibrant and diverse local high streets and communities. They are undoubtedly facing pressures, so as we enter the busy summer trading period, it’s really encouraging to see that, where they can, many people continue to support these small businesses and enjoy positive experiences.”

American Express is supporting independent restaurant owners across London this summer through its Backing International Small Restaurants grant programme. Now in its second year, the initiative aims to highlight the important role independent restaurants play in their communities and provide them with valuable support to succeed. Six eligible restaurants of community significance will receive £11,500 each to help them make critical improvements that boost their business, such as enhancing digital capabilities or revitalising their dining spaces.