As a result of increased pricing of a foodservice meal over the past few years, The NPD Group reported that there was a 4% decline in consumer visits to U.S. restaurants this April compared to a year ago. Factors that contributed to this decline include food inflation, rising costs and a 9% increase in the price of a foodservice meal compared to April 2019.
Restaurant traffic in April was 11% below the pre-pandemic level in April 2019. The 1% increase in consumer spending at restaurants in April versus a year ago was more a reflection of higher prices than increased use of restaurants, according to NPD’s daily tracking of the U.S. foodservice industry.
Online and physical visits to quick-service restaurants (QSRs) declined by 4% in April compared to a year ago and is 6% below the April 2019 pre-pandemic baseline. Traffic to full-service restaurants (FSRs), which had the steepest declines during the pandemic, was down 3% this April compared to a year ago, which is 31% below April 2019 visits.
Rising restaurant prices have had the most impact on lower-income households and households with kids. For consumers in households with annual incomes under $50,000, their restaurant visits declined by 11% in April 2022 compared to the same month a year ago. Traffic from households with kids under age six was down 8% and decreased by 9% for households with kids ages six to 12 in April compared to a year ago. Visits from groups with kids, from the same home or not, were down 14% from a year ago, while traffic from adult-only groups was up 1% this April compared to April 2021.
“Rising prices put pressures on consumers that contribute to the restaurant industry slowdown. For many consumers, it’s more affordable to eat at home,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of “Eating Patterns in America.” “This is when operators need to demonstrate their value to consumers struggling with inflation and be solutions-oriented to help consumers meet needs across life stages.”