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Gen Y Spending Boosts Restaurant Sales

ROCKVILLE, Md.—Market research publisher Packaged Facts released its “The U.S. Foodservice Landscape 2010: Restaurant Industry and Consumer Trends, Momentum and Migration” report that analyzes recent and future consumer habits and attitudes of millennials (Generation Y) surrounding dining out during the recession.

According to the report, the restaurant users aged 18-34 are an industry sweet spot, with strong usage and usage frequency patterns across restaurant segments. Within the cohort, restaurant users aged 25-34 spend the most money at restaurants on a per meal basis, and also have the largest party sizes resulting in a total spend per visit that is 25 percent above the average. Likewise, healthy eaters and technology-savvy diners who utilize ordering technology spend more than average per visit and have higher party sizes.

About 50 percent of respondent adult (18+) restaurant goers say they are more likely to eat dinner at home—and almost one-third doing so “a lot more”—compared to three months ago. Besides eating more at home, the proprietary data reveals that an increasing number of consumers are inclined to spend more money on groceries or to “pack a lunch, breakfast or snack” in the next three months rather than splurge on takeout or delivery.

“Our data indicates that grocery store sales rose 4 percent between February 2009 and February 2010, underscoring the trend toward food at home, which continues to exhibit momentum,” said Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts. “This shift toward food at home at the expense of food away has produced a triple threat to the restaurant industry: declining guest traffic, declining average check, and declining sales.”

Packaged Facts estimates that sales at eating and drinking establishments will fall 2 percent in 2010, then increase by 2 percent in 2011. Full-service restaurants, segment sales of which are forecast to fall 4 percent in 2010, will lead the drop before increasing 1 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, limited-service restaurant sales are forecast to drop 1 percent in 2010 and then rise by 2 percent in 2011.

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