Deterred By High Unemployment, U.S. Hispanics Cut Back on Restaurant Visits in 2012

Chicago, April 25, 2013 — While total restaurant visits increased by one percent in 2012 compared to prior year, visits by U.S. Hispanics declined by one percent, a loss of 86 million visits, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.

Declines were steepest among less bicultural U.S. Hispanics, who made two percent less visits last year than in 2011, according to NPD’s CREST® Hispanic, which tracks U.S. Hispanics use of restaurants daily.The high unemployment rate among U.S. Hispanics and Latinos, which averaged 10.3 in 2012 percent compared to a national average of 8.1 percent, is a contributing factor to their foodservice visit declines, reports NPD.

In contrast to U.S. Hispanics' visit declines, their average check rose by 4 percent from a year ago. The check increase was due, in part, to their shift away from value menus, most likely due to the change in offerings or price increases, finds CREST Hispanic.

Visit declines by segment show quick service restaurants (QSR) held 84 percent share of U.S. Hispanic's restaurant visits in 2012, a one percent increase in share from year-ago.. This compares to the 78 percent share of QSR restaurant visits claimed by non-Hispanic traffic. U.S. Hispanics' use of full service restaurants is historically below average, and their lagging visits to this segment were even more pronounced in 2012.

U.S. Hispanics, especially those who are more bicultural, are younger as a group than non-Hispanics. Thirty-four percent of U.S. Hispanic restaurant visitors are between the ages of 18 and 34, reports CREST Hispanic, which tracks U.S. Hispanic foodservice usage by level of acculturation. This age group, although still the heaviest restaurant users among Hispanics cut back on their use of restaurants in 2012 more than any other U.S. Hispanic age group.

“U.S. Hispanics are an increasingly important customer base for the foodservice industry — they made some 9.6 billion visits in 2012 and spent $63 billion” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Understanding how, why, and when U.S. Hispanics use restaurants and other foodservice outlets can help operators and supplier partners focus on efforts to entice this group to visit.”

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