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Consumer Trends

The forecast looks sunny for a strong summer dining-out season

Data from Amex Trendex shows that consumers are eager to visit restaurants in the next few months.
Outdoor summer dining
Photograph: Shutterstock

After two slower-than-usual summers for many restaurateurs, the forecast is a bit sunnier in the months ahead.

Exploring new restaurants tops the list as the summer activity of choice for a majority of consumers, according to a national Amex Trendex poll conducted in May by Morning Consult.

Of the 2,000 Americans surveyed, 62% agree that dining out with friends is the summer activity they are most excited for. And 55% said they intend to spend more money on meals and food this year than last year.

The uptick was especially notable with younger consumers. Gen Z and Millennials (30%) are most looking forward to dining out more often this summer. GenXers aren’t far behind at 28%, but the number drops to 22% for Baby Boomers.

More outdoor events, including concerts, sporting events and festivals, are in the summer plans for 70% of respondents—all activities that can boost restaurant visits.

While these numbers are promising, skyrocketing gas prices may darken the outlook. As of Thursday, the average price for a gallon of gas hit $5 nationwide. Although restaurant sales remained strong through April, the summer travel and outing season is just getting under way and gas prices can have a negative impact.

Neighborhood independent restaurants may be the beneficiaries if driving to a destination becomes prohibitive. An impressive 86% of survey respondents agree that they enjoy dining out at local restaurants as a way to support their favorite small businesses.

The Amex Trendex poll was conducted by Morning Consult from May 6-9, 2022, among a national sample of 2,000 U.S. travelers who have a household ncome of at least $70K.

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