A new survey from back-of-house restaurant management software company MarketMan has found that three-quarters of Americans believe restaurants will cut down on portion sizes as inflation continue.
Responding to the survey, 74 per cent of Americans said they think operators will manage increasing food costs by cutting portion sizes while charging customers the same price, and the same proportion indicated that they are likely to dine at restaurants less frequently if menu prices go up.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of respondents suggested they expect to see restaurants switching to cheaper, lower-quality ingredients without notifying customers as another cost-saving measure amid high food and production costs.
Honesty could be key
An important conclusion for restaurant operators is that restaurants can succeed by being transparent about their rising costs.
The How Americans Will Dine at Restaurants Amid Rising Inflation and Cost Pressure report found that many diners would prefer operators to be honest about such changes: over half (56 per cent) of restaurant-goers surveyed agree they would be more willing to pay a little more if restaurants clearly explain why prices are rising.
Sympathy for local
The sentiment seen throughout the pandemic that consumers ar willing to support small and local businesses seems to be persistent, too.
Six in 10 (61 per cent) of consumers agree they are more likely to accept higher prices from small, local independent or family-run eateries than major chain restaurants.
In addition, three-quarters (75 per cent) say rising prices will mean they are likely to stick with restaurants they are familiar with rather than risk trying somewhere new.
Changes in dine-in behaviour
Marketman’s survey also identified a number of ways that rising menu prices will affect people’s dine-in behaviour, potentially forcing restaurant operators to review menu items and adjust inventory management.
For example, nearly three-quarters of survey participants who go to restaurants say that if prices go up, they’ll either skip dessert (74 per cent) or appetizers (72 per cent), while many will order fewer drinks (71 per cent).
More than seven in 10 (72 per cent) also say they will scour the menu for cheaper dishes and 64 per cent will order dishes they can share to reduce the overall bill. People will also try to maximize what they get for free, with two-thirds (66 per cent) asking for more complimentary items, such as bread or drink refills.
And, at the end of the meal, more than eight in 10 (82 per cent) will ask for a to-go box to take away any leftovers to make sure they get the most out of what they pay for.
Pilfering could be on the rise
There are also signs that customers will be more open to pilfering items from restaurants or bending the rules to get more from their visit.
One out of five consumers surveyed (20 per cent) strongly agree that they are more likely to think it’s acceptable to take things away from expensive restaurants, such as table decorations, glasses, cutlery, candleholders, or fancy soap from the washrooms. Nearly four in 10 (39 per cent) of restaurant-goers also say that they are likely to bring Tupperware or other containers to fill up and take away food from all-you-can-eat buffets.
For comprehensive insights from the survey, download the full report from the MarketMan website: https://www.marketman.com/restaurant-industry-report/