CONSUMERS here are still wining and dining, but they've allocated less resources to food.
They spent an average of US$198 ($247) on dining out last year, compared with the previous year's average of US$218, a 24.4 per cent decline according to a survey conducted by MasterCard.
The amount was above the Asia Pacific average spending of US$140 and was also the top among Southeast Asian nations.
The biggest spenders in the region were those from Hong Kong, who notched up an average monthly dining out expenditure of US$218.
They were followed by Singapore, Thailand (US$182), Taiwan (US$166) and Japan (US$165), who rounded up the top five nations splurging on food.
A least 12 per cent of Singapore respondents plan to dine out at more expensive venues.
But the majority of local diners, 69 per cent of them, do not envisage spending more when eating out.
In terms of frequency, eating out continues to be the norm for Singaporeans, with 98 per cent indicating that they have dined at restaurants, food courts or hawker centres and pubs in the last six months.
A quarter of Singapore consumers also plan to eat out more in the next six months.
When it comes to exploring new dining options, Singapore consumers tend to firstly depend on word-of-mouth recommendations (49 per cent) from their peers and relatives, followed by online reviews (46 per cent).
Locals love their dining deals, with over two-thirds revealing that they enquired if any card promotions are available at the point of payment.
"Food is an undeniable passion for Singaporeans, and eating out is part and parcel of everyday life. What's interesting is that we are seeing greater appreciation for fine dining, new cuisines and differentiated dining experiences - pointing to increasingly sophisticated tastes in Singapore," said Julienne Loh, general manager, Singapore, MasterCard.
The survey interviewed 7,932 respondents aged between 18 and 64. They hail from 16 Asia Pacific economies.
Some 400 residents in Singapore participated in the survey, conducted between October and November last year.