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Foodservice Industry Recovery Hinges on Two Types of Consumers
May 12, 2011
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The two categories of consumers are those that can spend freely and those that cannot, and those distinctions will impact the restaurant industry in the future, according to a report from NPD Group.

The recession-created cautious spenders are the majority – 76% of consumers, the report stated, and includes adults in all demographic groups but skews to the unemployed, less affluent, and retirees. They are going to restaurant less, trading down, and ordering less when they do go. This group thinks they will be able to spend more at restaurants when the economy recovers but don't see that coming soon.

Those whose dining out behavior is little changed by the recession are just 24% of consumers. They're characterized in the report as more generally optimistic and are less likely to moderate their restaurant spending. Even this group is described as having traded down on restaurant visits since 2007. This segment crosses demographics groups but tends to be employed and affluent.

"There is considerable disparity between the views of optimists and controlled spenders regarding enticement to visit restaurants more often," says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "Optimists place much more importance on service and a relaxing atmosphere than controlled spenders, who are more concerned with price and value."

The report said that restaurant visits are recovering slowly after 2 years of decreases. Visits were flat in the year ending in February 2011, compared to a 3% drop in the year previous.

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