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Consumer Trends

Unemployment delays recovery of restaurant industry, but 2011 looks brighter

Continuing high unemployment rates across the U.S. point to a still bumpy road to recovery, but there are signs of hope in the year ahead. Although restaurant traffic was down 1 percent in the third quarter of 2010, visits to restaurants increased during the fourth quarter and growth is forecast to continue into 2011.

“Some of the areas most affected by the recession have stopped declining or are starting to edge back up, like families with kids and non-deal visits,” says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at NPD.

  • Visits to quickservice restaurants were up by 1% in the third quarter
  • Casual dining and midscale full-service restaurants continue to experience traffic declines
  • Casual dining visits were down 2% and traffic to midscale restaurants was down 3%
  • Since September 2008, per capita restaurant visits for adults, ages 18 to 24, dropped from 236 to 215, and adults ages 25 to 34, declined from 256 to 235 visits
  • Total non-commercial traffic is down 6% versus the third quarter of 2009, however, traffic losses have softened

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