The demographics of the restaurant business are changing with the economy. The kids are staying home: baby boomers are eating out more. That’s according to a recent survey by the NPD Group. NPD’s CREST®, which has tracked consumer purchasing and consumption patterns at commercial restaurants since 1975, shows that in 2008, restaurant visits by parties with kids declined by three percent, and restaurant visits by young adults, the most lucrative restaurant market, dropped from 254 per capita in 2007 to 233 in 2008.
One group that has increased their visits to restaurants over the past year is Baby Boomers, ages 50 to 64, according to NPD’s foodservice market research. In 2008, the number of per capita visits by adults, aged 50 to 64 was 209, up from 204 in 2007 and 201 in 2003.
“Restaurant operators need to understand that their customer profiles are changing and it’s just not about the economy,” says Riggs. “There are long-term behavioral shifts occurring and they need to have a greater understanding of who their customers are and what those customers are looking for in their restaurant experience.”
Both quick service and full service restaurants experienced traffic losses in 2008 with kids under 13 years old. Losses were particularly pronounced at supper, but occurred at other parts of the day as well.
Although kids’ absence from the restaurant scene is a recent phenomenon, young adults have been scaling back on restaurant visits for the past five years, with the decline from 2007 to 2008 being the steepest. According to the NPD report, Holding Onto“Generation Next”… The Coveted 18-24 Year-Old, young adults’ preferences are shifting. Health and food quality is top-of-mind with them. The study finds they feel restaurant food is often too high in calories, and there aren’t enough healthy/nutritious options. They also reference poor food quality, not freshly prepared, and no fresh ingredients when evaluating restaurant food.
While other reports we’ve seen indicate boomers are eating out less, it is interesting to see what’s happening with younger generations and their attitudes.
Posted by Laura Rossman