Report: More U.S. Consumers Are Choosing to Dine-in at Restaurants

Report: More U.S. Consumers Are Choosing to Dine-in at Restaurants
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July 14, 2015

According to a new report from global information company NPD Group, more consumers nationwide are choosing to sit down and dine-in at restaurants as opposed to carrying out or using a drive-thru window.

This is good news for the restaurant industry since, according to NPD's ongoing foodservice market research, an on-premises, dine-in visit means a higher average check size than an off-premises visit. NPD says that dine-in visits represent $223.4 billion dollars annually for the industry, whereas off-premises visits represent $200.3 billion.

NPD reports that on-premises restaurant visits, which now have been up for three consecutive years, increased by two percent last year over the year before while off-premises/carryout traffic declined by one percent.

According to NPD's CREST foodservice market research, for the year ending in May 2015, dine-in restaurant visits were up one percent and off-premises visits were flat. Quick service restaurants, which represent 78 percent of total industry traffic, increased dine-in visits by 5 percent last year, the highest gain of all restaurant segments. Casual dining on-premises traffic held steady in the year ending in December 2014 against overall visit declines for the segment. Dine-in visits at family dining/midscale restaurants declined as did overall visits, according to the report.

NPD's report shows that some of the top benefits that surveyed consumers listed for dining on-premises at a restaurant involve the experience and how good it makes them feel. NPD says that these findings are in line with the "experiential purchasing" trend — the idea that consumers want to do something, not just buy something — that marketers are seeing across consumer sectors.

As far as reasons for selecting a restaurant, NPD says that good tasting food is by far and away the cost of entry for restaurant operators looking to drive on-premises visits, followed by convenience, and service.

Given their expectations, NPD found that consumers who dine-in aren't necessarily a loyal group. Forty-two percent of on-premises diners say they are somewhat loyal to a particular restaurant or chain, 34 percent say they are loyal, and 24 percent say they are not loyal at all.

"The message for restaurant operators is that on-premises consumers are happier and more profitable consumers," says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "Treat them right with good tasting food and the best service and a return visit is likely."