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Young-Adult Dining Declines; Boomers Pick Up Slack

The bad news is that dining occasions are declining among young adults, who traditionally account for the most restaurant business customer traffic. Balancing this is the news that visits by Millennials’ parents and grandparents have been rising.

Source: The NPD Group/CREST

According to an NPD Group report, “Boomers and Beyond—Targeting for Success,” baby boomers and their seniors (called Mature Traditionalists) are visiting every segment of the restaurant business more than they did in 2008, before the worst of the recession.

Total restaurant traffic was up 1% for the 12 months ending September 2012, according to NPD’s CREST foodservice market research. However, visits continue to lag pre-recession levels.

“The visit rate for older restaurant consumers is now the same as it is for those younger. Boomers and older have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008 and Millennials have decreased their share of traffic by six percentage points,” NPD concludes.

Increased restaurant usage by older consumers is responsible for the recovery of foodservice’s morning-meal business, which rose 2% during the previous year. NPD says older diners also are helping recover dinner business lost during the recession. “Older Boomers are now heavier users (most frequent) of restaurant morning meals and supper than any other age group,” says NPD.

“A lot of restaurant marketing dollars are aimed at Millennials but market share capture remains the growth path for restaurant operators, just as it has been for the past five years,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Gaining market share among population segments increasing in both number and their use of restaurants, like Boomers, eases the struggle. Operators just need to keep in mind that reaching the older customers requires recognizing what it is they want from their restaurant experiences.”

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