The U.S. commercial foodservice industry experienced sales of $440.1 billion in the 12 months ending in June 2015—a YOY increase of 3.1 percent. Though offline expenses predominantly account for these figures (98.1 percent), online sales have increased by 11 percent—threefold the rate of offline growth. This is a reflection of the increasing role of online delivery services (predominantly pizza restaurants).
Consumers decreased their visits to independent, midscale/family dining, and quick service hamburger restaurants, but thanks to increased visits at quick service and fast casual restaurants, overall foodservice traffic hit its highest level in six years. The morning meal continues to grow at the fastest rate due to increased QSR breakfast visits, and lunch and dinner visits are now holding steady after a number of years on the decline. Rising food costs this year resulted in menu price hikes, contributing to the lift in the average eater check that helped drive the industry’s YOY sales gain. But consumers are still very cautious with their spending; they continue to cut back on the number of items ordered and/or trade down in the menu (for example, they might pass up a main entrée in favor of a less expensive burger).
Now here’s a deviation from today’s Millennial-driven marketplace—Boomers have surpassed the Millennial segment in restaurant meal consumption, as the younger, frugal group cuts back on meals out. NPD restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs explains that while the 50+ segment is driving industry growth now, this older population will dine out less frequently as they age over the next decade. Accordingly, the restaurant industry will become increasingly reliant on the lighter Millennials buyers, and must offer the freshly prepared and customizable menu items that Millennials are demanding.