Why dining is declining despite increasing restaurant sales? While in the past, it seemed that more people were eating out, now it seems like fewer are. What has happened? This article takes a look at how society is changing with the times and what might be the cause of this decline in dining. Also, it might surprise you to learn that this isn’t just a problem for restaurants—it’s also a problem for consumers, who are increasingly finding themselves in situations where they can’t afford to eat out.
In this article, we’ll explain how and why it has come to this conclusion.
Chain Restaurants’ Unforeseen Threat
In the third quarter, chain restaurants reported rising sales. However, increased sales may not necessarily translate into more clients.
In fact, watchers of the industry have noticed a decline in restaurant foot traffic. This is because many consumers have been eating at home more frequently due to inflation eating away at their wallets.
The head of analytical research at Placer.ai, RJ Hottovy, who uses location data from mobile devices to estimate visits, said: “You’re seeing that duality where you see strong sales numbers, but at the end of the day, it’s primarily… due to price increases.”
He claimed that several restaurant chains “have out-priced their customers.” So they’ll need to find a means to let people back in.
Chain Restaurants: Price Ranges
Restaurants have been increasing menu prices over the past few years, so even though fewer consumers are purchasing their meals or people are coming in less frequently, their sales are boosted because each bill is larger.
At the beginning of this year, people continued to eat out despite price increases. Data from Placer.ai shows that in January, foot traffic increased between 20% and 31% over the same period last year at fast food, fast casual, and full-service restaurants where you place your order at a table.
But by August, after months of consumers dealing with severe inflation, every market declined. That month, fast food restaurant traffic declined 1.2%, fast casual restaurant traffic fell 1.7%, and full-service restaurants saw a 4.7% decline in customer loyalty. September and October saw a minor improvement in fast food traffic, while full service and casual traffic declined.
Grocery Prices Rise, but Demand is Still High
Food is becoming more expensive everywhere, and groceries are increasing faster than menu prices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, grocery prices rose 12.4% in the year ending in October without adjusting for seasonal variations. Prices at restaurants went up 8.6%.
Purchasing groceries is typically less expensive than eating out. Additionally, demand for groceries continues to be high as customers strive to stretch their budgets.
Grocery store volume sales “have stayed reasonably consistent,” according to KK Davey, president of thought leadership for the research companies IRI and NPD.
What Will Bring Customers Back?
Chili’s noticed a decline in sales after it stopped offering discounts. However, greater sales do not always result in increased traffic.
According to a November NPD report, “Traffic to [quick-service restaurants] offering the most deals was down 1% in the quarter compared to a year ago, the same decline witnessed by the balance of [those] business owners.”
As seen by Hottovy, one promotion in October performed so well that it increased fast-food restaurant traffic as a whole, turning it from negative to positive. This promotion, the adult Happy Meal from McDonald’s Cactus Plant Flea Market Box, had nothing to do with discounts.
In the first four days of the promotion, he said that 50% of the collectibles were sold; therefore, it’s fair to say that this nostalgic experience was successful. In addition, the US business experienced its best weekly digital transaction volume thanks to these increased visits.
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