Feeling the impact of inflation and rising menu prices, American consumers cut back on their restaurant visits in the second calendar quarter of 2022, according to The NPD Group.
The industry analyst reports that physical and online restaurant traffic declined by 2 percent in the quarter versus a year ago, -6 percent below the pre-pandemic level in the same quarter in 2019. Consumer restaurant spending, which reflects higher costs in contrast to increased visits, was up 2 percent in the quarter compared to the same quarter year ago and increased by 3 percent versus the pre-pandemic second quarter in 2019.
Visits to quick service restaurants, representing 82 percent of total restaurant traffic, declined by 2 percent in the second quarter compared to last year’s quarter, 3 percent below the pre-pandemic level for the same period in 2019. QSR fast casual restaurant traffic was down 1 percent in the second quarter of this year compared to a year ago and was up 8 percent versus the same quarter in 2019. Full service restaurant visits, representing 18 percent of restaurant visits, were down 3 percent in the quarter versus a year ago and declined by 20 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019.
“Consumers continue to deal with rising inflation and higher prices. We see three ways consumers respond to higher menu prices. They trade down to lower-priced items, cut back on the number of items ordered, or reduce restaurant visits altogether,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Operators and manufacturers can win in this environment by differentiating value, understanding that value doesn’t always translate to the lowest price. Quality and value become a critical differentiator when consumers spend on a restaurant meal during these challenging times.”