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Consumer Trends

Deal or no deal?

Deals are no longer driving restaurant traffic, according to a recent report from the Chicago-based NPD Group. In fact, customers perceive discounted meals offered over a prolonged time period as regular pricing—not a bargain.

  • Restaurant visits on a deal were down 3% in the year ending December 2012 compared to the same period the year before
  • Combo meals and value menu item offers, two of the most frequently offered deals, are largely responsible for the decrease in deal traffic
  • Visits that included coupons, buy one-get-one, and discounted price were up
  • Younger consumers, in particular, are rejecting all types of "deal" visits to restaurants, especially combo meals and value menus

At the height of the recession, when industry traffic was down, deals and special offers drove industry restaurant visits. In 2008, for instance, visits on a deal were up 5% and non-deal traffic was down 1%; 2009 deal traffic was up 3% and non-deal traffic down 4%. While consumers are still being frugal, "deals that have historically appealed to restaurant customers need to be re-engineered and the next generation of deals introduced," said NPD's Bonnie Riggs.

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