Domino’s Pizza suffered a sharp slowdown in sales growth in early 2017 as rival Pizza Hut cut prices and consumers reined in spending. David Wild, the Domino’s chief executive, said Pizza Hut was “very aggressive” in January and that consumers were more cautious about spending. “Looking forward, the UK consumer environment is more difficult,” he said. “Our research tells us that customers are worried about rising prices. They’re not worried about job security but they are worried about prices. Over the first nine weeks of the year, sales growth at Domino’s stores open for more than a year dropped to 1.5%, down from 10.5% in the same period a year earlier. He said that Domino’s could gain from that because it “sits neatly in the middle” and could gain from customers opting for a takeaway rather than eating out. “This is a more value-conscious environment,” he added. Investors lost their appetite for Domino’s Pizza on Thursday, with shares plunging 16%.