Looking back on industry trends over the past year, the economy has driven consumer behaviour. At the end of 2010, it appeared we were emerging from the economic crisis. However, 2011 has delivered generally weak, sputtering restaurant traffic in every country that NPD tracks, outside of China.
While Canada fared better than most countries, traffic here is barely above 2008 pre-recession levels. The job market has stalled and consumer confidence is shaky, leaving Canadians cautious about discretionary spending.
Young adults were once the heaviest restaurant users but have cut back dramatically in the last two years. They are also the group facing the highest unemployment rates.
Parties that include kids have experienced three years of decline. It begs the question of whether this is simply an economic response, or if restaurants are not meeting the needs of families. And if families have lost the restaurant habit, what will it take to win them back?
Supper has declined for three consecutive years, particularly affecting FSR but also QSR. The only segment with supper growth in the past year has been prepared food from grocery stores, presenting further challenges for traditional restaurants.
Major chains are generally feeling less impact than smaller chains and independents. They have fallen less dramatically and are picking up faster.
Trends for 2012